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Newlywed Killed In NH Crash; Furniture Executive Charged With Drunk Driving

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – A bride was killed and her new husband was seriously hurt in a crash this weekend. Leah and Brian Preiss took a road trip for their honeymoon — traveling from Minnesota to New England. That trip took a horrible turn on Saturday in Rollinsford, New Hampshire when they were struck by an alleged drunk driver. Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve says that driver was perhaps minutes away from being stopped.

Leah Fonda and Brian Preiss of St. Paul, Minn., pose for a wedding photo. Less than two weeks later, Fonda was killed and Preiss was seriously injured in a New Hampshire car crash on Sunday, July 22, 2013. (Credit: Family Photo)

Leah Fonda and Brian Preiss of St. Paul, Minn. (Credit: Family Photo)

WBZ has learned an erratic driver was being followed by a local businessman who was absolutely certain something was very wrong. This witness had dialed 911 and was actually on the phone talking to police when the alleged drunk driver slammed into the newlyweds.

“We don’t want Leah to be forgotten.”

An anguished family talking about the Minnesota newlyweds, married just nine days when tragedy struck. While on their honeymoon Saturday afternoon, Leah and Brain Preiss were struck by an alleged drunk driver on Route 4 in Rollinsford. The bride, 29 year old Leah, died. Her new husband, Brian, is in a Boston hospital.

Ken Czech is the groom’s uncle.

“Such a wonderful future together after waiting so long. And you could see happiness bubbling over. To have it cut so, so tragically, is beyond belief,” he said.

An eyewitness told WBZ the alleged drunk driver crossed over the center line and hit the newlyweds. The witness says the alleged drunk driver then stripped down to his boxer shorts and ran down a side street.

That driver has been identified as 43-year-old Matthew Tsopas. He is a New Hampshire furniture executive. He was arraigned on vehicular homicide charges in his Dover, New Hampshire hospital bed. Nobody answered the door at the Tsopas home in Somersworth. However, WBZ has confirmed Tsopas was drinking at an anniversary party at the American Legion Hall in Rollinsford Saturday where he got into a fight. Investigators say he hit four cars as he drove out of the party lot. Now the bar itself is being investigated.

Thomas Velardi is the New Hampshire prosecutor handling the case. “One of the first things that New Hampshire State Police did was notify the Liquor Enforcement Bureau and that aspect of the case is being looked into as well,” said Velardi.

The bride’s mother told our sister station in Minnesota she has gone from “totally wounded to totally enraged” saying this driver should never have been on the road.

Relatives said the couple, both Mall of America employees, got married just over a week ago.

Mall of America released the following statement about the couple: “We were greatly saddened to hear about the accident regarding Leah Fonda and Brian Preiss. Leah and Brian have been valued members of Nickelodeon Universe since 2001 and have touched many lives. Our hearts and thoughts are with their families and friends during this difficult time.”

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