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Woman Burns To Death On Pavement After Fiery Toll Booth Crash

October 5, 1996

HOOKSETT, N.H. (AP) _ A woman driving home to Canada with her mother burned to death on the street while helpless bystanders watched after a flaming car collision at a toll booth.

Her mother managed to escape the fiery wreckage with minor burns.

Marion Suzanne Beckett, 40, was cruising up to the exact-change lane at the Interstate 93 toll booth Friday morning when a fast-moving van flipped over a concrete divider and landed on top of Beckett’s car, police said.

Both vehicles exploded in flames just feet from the booth, melting together into a twisted mass of metal. The flames and heat sent toll takers scrambling for safety, blackening booths and melting overhead signs.

Beckett, who had been driving home to Scarborough, Ontario, was able to struggle out through the flames, her clothes and body on fire. But heat was too intense for anyone to save her from dying on the asphalt.

Her 65-year-old mother, also named Marion, ran screaming from the car, somehow escaping with only minor burns to her head and shoulder.

The van’s driver, General Electric Co. employee Richard Connacher, 57, of Nashua, also was killed. Connacher was heading to Concord on business.

``They were still exploding and sheet metal was flying off them, debris going everywhere and the heat was too intense to get close,″ said witness Todd Boyer, 19, of Meredith.

Lewis Moulton of Concord said he saw tires flying from the booths on the northbound lanes and a toll taker running, screaming, from the destruction.

Then he saw Beckett, her clothes afire, struggling in vain to get up.

It wasn’t clear how fast Connacher’s van was going, said Bill Boynton, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation. His van left no skid marks.

The vehicles, draped with tarpaulins, remained between two of the charred toll booths for hours as investigators tried to recreate the scene. Workers waved travelers through without requesting the 75-cent tolls.

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