Reporting Michael Rosenfield
BOSTON (CBS) — Crosses and balloons now mark the spot on Route 4 in Rollinsford, New Hampshire where a honeymoon came to a devastating end.
The newlyweds–Leah Fonda Preiss and Brian Preiss, were on a road trip from Minnesota when they were hit by 43-year-old Matthew Tsopas who prosecutors say was driving on the wrong side of the road and slammed into them.
Leah died in the crash and Brian was seriously injured.
Tsopas faces several charges including negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated, and conduct after an accident.
Prosecutors say the problems began at the nearby American Legion hall where Tsopas was attending a private function. They say he was drinking and taking pills, became unruly, and even threw a drink on another guest.
They say he then rammed his Infiniti into four cars in the parking lot on purpose before driving off.
“Folks were incredibly alarmed,” said prosecutor Tom Velardi. “They were trying to prevent him from leaving the area.”
After the crash minutes later, prosecutors say Tsopas ran into the nearby woods and took off most of his clothing.
He was then confronted by a witness.
“Mr. Tsopas then squared off with the Good Samaritan,” said Velardi. “Struck him with his hands and picked up a stick and tried to strike him again.”
Velardi says Tsopas remained combative at the hospital and had to be sedated. He then tried to check himself out when he woke up.
His defense attorney, Tim Harrington, said Tsopas’ behavior after the crash showed he was in a state of shock.
“He was not actively fleeing in fact,” said Harrington. He was laying on the side of the road when police found him.”
Harrington argued to lower the $250,000 bail, saying Tsopas has strong ties to the community and has a minimal prior record.
The judge said he will consider it but in the meantime, Tsopas remains in jail.
Stunned by the horrific crash in this small town, Heather Leroux, who works near the crash site, wanted to collect sympathy cards for the groom.
“I just wanted to get response from our community,” said Leroux. “And just let him know that we cared when he awoke.”
Brian Preiss has now been discharged from the hospital.
Family members of the defendant declined to comment about the case after court today.
The judge entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on behalf of Tsopas.
The case now moves to the superior court level and a possible indictment.