December 11, 2013

Prosecutors: Fatal N.H. crash was ex-exec’s suicide attempt

One victim, 24-year-old Amanda Murphy, was eight months pregnant.

By Lynne Tuohy
The Associated Press

LEBANON, N.H. – A former Fortune 500 executive told police he was trying to kill himself when he drove his pickup truck across the grassy median of a highway and slammed into an SUV, killing an expectant couple inside, prosecutors said Wednesday.

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Robert J. Dellinger, 53, of Sunapee, N.H., is arraigned by video at Lebanon District Court in Lebanon, N.H., on Wednesday, on two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of a Wilder, Vt., couple who were killed in an automobile collision on Interstate 89 in Lebanon on Saturday.

The Associated Press

Robert Dellinger is charged with two counts of reckless manslaughter in connection with the crash, which killed 29-year-old Jason Timmons and 24-year-old Amanda Murphy, who was eight months pregnant. Timmons and Murphy were from Wilder, Vt.; their unborn child also died.

Prosecutors said Dellinger’s truck crossed the median on Interstate 89 on Saturday, became airborne and sheared off the top of the couple’s car, killing them instantly. The medical examiner’s report said the injuries they suffered were consistent with a plane crash.

The 53-year-old Dellinger, of Sunapee, was arraigned by video. He sat at a table and stared down for most of the proceeding. His wife, sons and about a dozen other supporters left court without speaking to reporters.

Dellinger served as senior vice president and chief financial officer at PPG Industries Inc., taking a severance package worth more than $1 million in cash plus stocks when he left in 2011 because of health reasons, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dellinger, who also held top-level posts at Sprint Corp., Delphi Corp. and General Electric Co., bought a home on Sunapee Lake in November 2012, according to property records.

Susan Morrell, senior assistant attorney general for New Hampshire, said Dellinger argued with his wife over his medications on the morning of the crash. He left the house and began to drive around, growing increasingly despondent, she said. A trooper said Dellinger said he intended to kill himself.

“He was driving around, depressed and loopy,” Morrell said. “He saw the median and decided to turn into it.”

Morrell noted the portion of median Dellinger chose had no trees, rocks or other obstacles.

“He could have chosen many other ways to kill himself that would not put anyone else in danger,” she said.

Dellinger’s lawyer, R. Peter Decato, called the state’s comments “over the top” and said Dellinger had led a “productive and exemplary life.” He argued for low bail for Dellinger.

A judge ordered Dellinger held on $250,000 cash bail, which his family was ready to post Wednesday.

Dellinger also will have to get a mental health evaluation, wear an electronic monitor, surrender his passport and driver’s licenses and not drive a car. He’ll have to stay in New Hampshire despite a request by his lawyer to allow him to travel for mental health treatment in Kansas, where he has property.

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