An unlicensed driver was trying to pass a car in New Hampshire when he collided head-on with a car carrying four Secret Service agents, according to the New York Post. The four security men in the second car were on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s protective detail.
The agents were in a Ford Taurus heading south on Route 16, Wakefield police said. A northbound Mercury Sable with three people inside crossed over a double yellow solid line and hit the agents’ Taurus.
New Hampshire police say 4 on-duty Secret Service agents involved in head-on crash; driver of other car killed: https://t.co/AIR2T0OpfR
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 30, 2015
It is reported that the snow in New Hampshire had made the roads very slippery, and that the unlicensed driver, Bruce Danforth, 45, made his fatal mistake shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday in Wakefield. The accident happened near the Maine state line.
Police said an autopsy has been done on Bruce Danforth, and the blood-analysis results would take weeks to arrive.
The agents sustained serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, according to a Secret Service spokesperson. The names of the agents involved in the incident have not been released, possibly due to their involvement with the protective detail of a presidential candidate.
4 Secret Service agents hospitalized after fatal car crash in New Hampshire yesterday evening, police say. https://t.co/8JFQr4znsD
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 30, 2015
The Washington Post reports that not only was Bruce Danforth driving without a licence, he had “an extensive criminal history” and was actually known to the local police department. Danforth’s two female passengers — Natasha Meroski, 35, and Kristina Buswell, 21 — were taken to hospitals, along with the Secret Service agents who sustained injuries.
Court records show that since 2010 Danforth had been charged seven times with driving while his license was revoked or suspended. On two of these occasions, he was also charged with drug-related offenses.
He had previously pleaded guilty to — or been found guilty of — the charges. The repeat offender had been fined hundreds of dollars for his drug-related and driving-related offences and had spent some time in a county jail. Danforth’s most recent arrest in January this year had resulted in him being ordered to pay $620. The fine was unpaid at the time of the crash involving the Secret Service personnel. A hearing with Danforth had been scheduled so the court could consider a contempt charge.
Police confirmed that there was no improper driving on the part of the Secret Service agents. State Police Lt. Kevin Duffy said all four agents were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Hillary Clinton sent her condolences and prayers to those involved, saying she was saddened and concerned to hear about the crash. The Democratic candidate was was campaigning on the night of a crash.
“My husband and I send our prayers and condolences to all the victims and their families. We are grateful every day for the service, dedication, and professionalism of the U.S. Secret Service.”
Hillary Clinton says she was "saddened" to hear about a crash involving four Secret Service agents last night in NH. pic.twitter.com/Jds9bzWKBO
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) December 30, 2015
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said in a statement, “Please join us as we keep all the victims of this accident and their families in our thoughts and prayers.”
The agents were part of a “jump team,” standing post at campaign events. A government official revealed that they were en route from one campaign event to another at the time of the accident.
Secret Service agents hurt in fatal crash were in NH to protect presidential hopefuls. Clinton "saddened" by tragedy.https://t.co/QaMeVyFLT4
— John Bacon (@jmbacon) December 30, 2015
Driver tried to pass before crash that killed him and injured Secret Service agents: WAKEFIELD – Four Secret… https://t.co/Dx9NjViDBZ
— Manchester NH Now (@manchesternhnow) December 31, 2015
Secret Service agents are required to travel regularly as they protect politicians and foreign dignitaries, and this is just one of the dangers and stresses of the fraught work.
Back in 2008, a Secret Service escort for Hillary Clinton was killed in a Dallas accident. Clinton cancelled her campaign rally out of respect for the deceased agent.
One person killed in crash with car carrying Secret Service agents who were in N.H. to protect Hillary Clinton https://t.co/b7fpqj9TFB
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 30, 2015
— Jesse Corwin (@realjcorwin) December 30, 2015
(Photo by Chris Livingston/ Getty Images)