Driver, victim together before plow accident

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ALTON, N.H. (AP) – The driver and victim in a fatal snow plow accident were friends who had been socializing together before one man struck the other with his truck.

Jerry Vayda, 25, died early Sunday morning after being struck by the plow truck driven by his friend, Ryan Benson, 26, on Route 140. Both men grew up in Gilmanton and were described as close, lifelong friends.

Vayda’s girlfriend, Katie Bamberger, said Vayda and Benson had been goofing off together while she and Benson’s girlfriend waited for them at J.P. China, an Alton restaurant. After arguing over “stupid things,” Bamberger said Vayda refused to ride home with her and decided to walk the seven miles home.

Benson – driving the same truck he had used to plow driveways for the Vayda family, who run a construction business – struck his friend.

No charges have been filed.

Sgt. Ryan Heath would not say whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but said police are considering all possibilities in their investigation, which continued Wednesday.

“We’re not commenting on that yet until we finish our entire investigation,” he said. “We have a lot of results we need to wait for.”

Vayda and Benson graduated from Gilford High School in 2000. Brett Marquas, Vayda’s fraternity brother at the University of New Hampshire, said the men “were like brothers.”

“That’s what makes this such an unthinkable tragedy,” he told The Citizen.

Vayda graduated from UNH last year and recently had been accepted to a medical school in Maine, his friends said. He had put off medical school for a while to run his father’s construction company after his father was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in August.

, also on Route 140, not for from Sunday’s crash.

Bob Vayda said his son’s decision to help out saved the family from financial ruin. “We would’ve lost the house in the second month if it wasn’t for him,” he said.

Jerry Vayda was equally devoted to his father’s recovery.

“Jerry was determined to get me to walk again,” Bob Vayda said. “I don’t think he planned on leaving me like this.”



Information from: Concord Monitor, http://www.cmonitor.com

AP-ES-01-03-07 0942EST

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