A man pleaded guilty Friday in a New Hampshire courtroom to manslaughter and other charges stemming from a head-on crash that killed a St. Paul newlywed in July 2013.
Brian Preiss and Leah Fonda-Preiss, both 30, were married earlier that month at a Bloomington chapel and decided for their honeymoon they would take a long road trip to New England. But the vacation ended tragically when a drunken driver crashed into their car on a New Hampshire highway, killing Fonda-Preiss and seriously injuring Preiss.
The couple had worked together at the Mall of America amusement park for 12 years, Preiss’ uncle, Ken Czech of St. Cloud, said at the time of the crash.
“She had met the love of her life. … To have it end so abruptly is truly a tragedy,” Czech said.
Matthew Tsopas, 44, of Somersworth, N.H., pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including driving while intoxicated and numerous other charges related to a scuffle at an American Legion hall shortly before the crash, according to a report from the New Hampshire Union Leader.
According to reports, Tsopas punched two people and threw a drink at another.
Reports stated that Tsopas left the hall, hitting four cars on his way to the highway, Route 4. He then tried to pass a vehicle and struck the Priess car head-on. The crash happened about 4:30 p.m. in the town of Rollinsford.
Tsopas has been incarcerated every day since the crash, for a total of 504 days. The court on Friday also ordered him to pay restitution to the Preiss family, the Union Leader reported.
On Friday, members of the Preiss family and relatives of Tsopas gathered in a Strafford County courtroom in Dover, N.H., where Tsopas was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in state prison, the newspaper reported.
Tsopas had both alcohol and prescription medication in his system when he caused the crash, the Union Leader reported.
Strafford County Attorney Tom Velardi praised the assistance of a number of witnesses who came forward with details of Tsopas’ actions that night. One man who came upon the crash scene called 911 and then followed Tsopas into the woods when the suspect tried to flee. Others stopped to help and stayed with the victims.
Star Tribune staff writer Nicole Norfleet and Andrea Bulfinch of the New Hampshire Union Leader contributed to this report.