Jun 11, 2015 11:40 AM

Reported heroin addict's fatal crash sheds light on strains to NH court system


FREMONT - A young woman who died in a car crash should never have been driving given she was facing heroin charges, according to one grieving family member.

But state prosecutors say they were waiting for lab results before indicting her - lab results that were among a backlog of 3,500 others at the state forensics lab.

On Sunday, 19-year-old Jessica McCassie died in a car crash on Route 101.

READ: Teen killed in crash on route 101 in Candia

"She shouldn't have been out endangering other people's lives," said Audrey Musso, McCassie's aunt. "She should have lost her license as soon as they knew that she was using heroin."

State prosecutors say that didn't happen because she was never formally charged. Prosecutors were waiting for lab results before indicting her.

READ: Left Behind: Family plans funeral for NH teen addicted to heroin who died in crash

"If she had gone to jail when she crashed and they Narcan'd her the fourth or fifth time, yeah she might still be alive today," said Musso.

The forensics lab director says the lab has fewer employees and too many samples from cases that are flooding the system, a system that's also short on judges because of budget cuts.

"Belknap County has a drug court, Rockingham County has a drug court," said Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.

Now the state's biggest city - one that's on the forefront of the heroin battle - is pushing for a drug court that would focus on rehabilitation, ease pressure on the courts and put families at ease.

"In the last month I've had five mothers come in and talk to me about their fear of getting that phone call about their son or their daughter that it's an overdose," said Gatsas said.

As for McCassie's family, the dreaded call came this week.

READ: Teen killed in Candia crash identified as 19-year-old NHTI student from Fremont

In the meantime, officials say the state heroin epidemic is putting growing pressure on state agency budgets - a strain on a system that can only be stretched so thin.

The Manchester delegation will vote on funding for possible drug court at the end of the month.


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