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Joyce Endee

Conway teen dies in Freedom ATV crash

Friends delayed calls to 911

August 27, 2009
FREEDOM — The investigation continues into the death of 19-year-old Jason Phair of Conway who died early Monday morning following an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) crash.

According to reports, Phair was attending a party at the Steeves residence on Durgin Hill Road with his girlfriend and several other guests, most younger than 21. The homeowners, Garrick and Carrie Steeves, were away camping locally at the time.

Law enforcement officials are working to unravel what occurred between the time Phair left the party for a ride on the ATV, lost control of the machine and hit a tree about 200 yards from the house and the time party attendees called for help.

According to a police issued press release, the crash occurred at approximately 1 a.m. and 911 was called about 2:30 a.m. However, the dispatch center log of the incident reports that the 911 call for help occurred at 1:53 a.m.

Attendees at the party reported to investigators that Phair was conscious and walking around in the moments after the accident and that they feared they would get into trouble for underage drinking if they called for an ambulance. Phair was taken back to the house by partygoers.

A 911 call was never placed from the house though. Phair lived with his girlfriend and her parents. The girlfriend called her parents in Conway and they drove to Freedom to pick up Phair in an attempt to get him medical attention.

Records indicate that at 1:53 a.m. a caller "transporting a 19-year-old male, in and out of consciousness, to King Pine Ski Area in a green Chevy Cavalier." The caller also did not know the exact location of the ATV accident.

At 2:07 a.m. the 911 operator indicates that they are coming down Towle Hill Road and the patient has rib and neck injuries and is not completely alert.

At 2:08 a.m. the 911 operator reports the patient is now waiting at the ski area for emergency service personnel.

At 3:03 a.m. Phair was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital.

Initial investigation reveals that speed and alcohol may have been contributing factors and that Phair was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. According to the NH Medical Examiner's Office, an autopsy was completed in Concord Tuesday but results were not available as of press time pending notification of the family.

A report on www.wmur.com indicated that Monday morning's ATV ride was a first for Phair but his cousin Jennifer Phair disagrees. "He grew up on four-wheelers," she said. In the reader comment section on that Web site following the article, she also added several comments disputing law enforcement's account of the events that night as given to them by party attendees. When reached by telephone Tuesday, she disputed the report that Phair was up and walking around after the accident but instead he was "laying on the ground begging for help and they [party attendees] grabbed the phone away from her [Phair's girlfriend] and wouldn't let her call for help" for fear they would get in trouble for underage drinking and crashing the four-wheeler.

"They were threatening to kick his (expletive) while he was dying on the (expletive) ground," she said.

"I want these people to understand they can't get away with it. He was begging for help, holding himself and saying he can't breathe and can't get up. Someone should have called 911," she said.

Jennifer Phair said she believes her cousin would still be alive if those at the party, including a 30-year-old, had immediately called for help instead of hindering his girlfriend's attempts to call for help, including taking her cell phone away.

The girlfriend's father was contacted by this reporter but chose not to speak on the record or to allow his daughter to speak on record for fear of hindering the police investigation.

A call to the Steeves residence for comment was unanswered.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Officer Brian Abrams said the investigation is being conducted by his agency, NH State Police and Freedom Police and declined comment beyond the original press release.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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