LACONIA, N.H. (AP) — The former leader of a boating association entered jail Tuesday to begin serving her one-year sentence for killing her best friend in a speed boat crash.

Her luggage, however, was stopped at the door.

“We had to remind her we’re not checking into a hotel,” said Daniel Ward, superintendent of the Belknap County House of Corrections. “We provide clothing and everything else she needs.”

Erica Blizzard, 36, of Laconia, was convicted in March of negligent homicide for failure to keep a proper lookout when she drove her high-performance boat into the ledge cliffs of Diamond Island on Lake Winnipesaukee in June 2008. An opened vodka bottle was found in the wreckage.

Her best friend, Stephanie Beaudoin of Meredith, died in the crash. Another close friend, Nicole Shinopulos of Burlington, Mass., was seriously injured. Blizzard’s face was shattered, and she has undergone reconstructive surgeries.

Blizzard was head of the New Hampshire Recreational Boaters Association at the time and only weeks earlier had testified against imposing speed limits on Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake.

Marine Patrol investigators testified that she was driving too fast during a night of inclement weather and very low visibility. Blizzard testified that she lost her bearings but wasn’t speeding.

The day after her March 18 conviction, Blizzard was cited for driving 84 mph on Interstate 93 and for driving in such a distracted manner she almost struck the trooper who tried to flag her down. Belknap County Attorney James Carroll promptly secured a court order that she not be allowed to drive, pending her admission to jail.

The reckless driving case is pending in Laconia District Court.

Blizzard surrendered at noon, becoming one of about a dozen females at the jail. She most likely will be placed in the dormitory-style secure unit for lower security inmates, rather than the two-person cells occupied by higher-risk inmates, Ward said.

Blizzard must serve at least six months before becoming eligible for work release outside the prison. The determination will be made after her performance on jail work details is evaluated, Ward said.

“It will be at least a month before we make a determination of what she’s capable of doing,” he said.

Blizzard’s lawyer, James Moir, last week sought to postpone the start of her sentence so she could undergo medical procedures. Because of a court furlough Friday, though, his motion did not get filed until this morning. Carroll objected, and Superior Court Judge Kathleen McGuire denied it.

“She’s prepared for this,” Moir said of her entry into jail. “It’s important to get the sentence done.”

The jury in her case deadlocked on two alcohol-related counts, including a more serious negligent-homicide charge.

The three women in the boat crash had dinner and cocktails at the Wolfetrap Restaurant in the hours before the accident, and the partially consumed bottle of vodka was found in the wreckage.

They had piloted across the lake to the home of Blizzard’s father on Governor’s Island to play a yearly Father’s Day prank of decorating his lawn with unusual items in the dead of night. They were traveling back to Shinopulos’ vacation home on Sleeper’s Island when the crash occurred.

Blizzard, who operates the marina her father owns, maintained she was not impaired. Authorities estimate her blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit, based on blood drawn several hours after the crash.

A forensic toxicologist for the defense testified that the results were elevated because of the amount of blood Blizzard lost from her own injuries.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.