LYNN, MASS. (WHDH) - A robbery suspect who drove the wrong way down a divided roadway in Saugus and crashed head-on into a 19-year-old Lynn woman as he fled police has been ordered held without bail on charges in connection with her death, officials said.
William Leger, 35, of Somerville, was arraigned virtually from his Boston hospital bed Thursday on charges including motor vehicle homicide by reckless operation, unarmed robbery, receiving a stolen vehicle, operating a vehicle with a suspended license, driving the wrong way on a state highway, marked lanes violation, and speeding, according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Officers responding to a report of an unarmed robbery at a 7-Eleven on Lincoln Avenue around 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday learned Leger had fled the store in a stolen vehicle, according to the Saugus Police Department.
Leger then led officers on a brief pursuit that was terminated when he turned onto Route 107 and started driving south in the northbound lanes, police added.
After driving for about a half-mile, Leger reportedly slammed head-on into a car driven by Ashley Forward, who was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.
Leger was arrested and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Prosecutors say Saugus police later found two crack pipes and a “large amount of cash” in the vehicle that Leger was driving.
Forward, who lived just three miles from where she was struck, graduated from high school last year. She recently wrapped up her freshman year at Emmanuel College and had dreams of becoming a nurse, according to family.
“A mother shouldn’t be burying a child,” Michelle Luongo said after learning of the death of her daughter. “She’s too young for this, she was going to go so far.”
Forward is now being remembered as a cheerleader, a softball player, and a young woman who loved life and adored her family.
“She was taken so early. Why didn’t she have a chance to fight for her life? Why?” Luongo asked as she fought back tears. “Now I have to tell my 10-year-old that the sister she looks up to and wants to be like is not around anymore.”
A large crowd gathered for a somber candlelight vigil at Red Rock Park in Lynn on Wednesday night to honor Foward.
Troopers assigned to the Essex District Attorney’s Office are assisting Saugus police with an investigation.
Leger is due back in court for a dangerousness hearing on June 17.
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