By Eric Francis
WINDSOR — Family members devastated by the loss of a 19-year-old girl in car accident Sunday night in Ascutney said this week that they believe the tragedy was just that: an accident.
Scotlynn Silfies, of Claremont, N.H., was in the passenger seat of her black Mazda and was letting her former boyfriend Seth Smith, 20, drive as she gave him a lift back to his home in Perkinsville when Smith apparently lost control on a curving section of Route 131 causing the car to leave the roadway and plunge over an embankment.
“The car hit a 12-inch diameter tree and then it rolled down a 20-to-25 foot embankment and then it was leaned up against another tree,” Ascutney Fire Chief Darrin Spaulding recalled, adding, “The passenger compartment was pretty much crushed down.”
Despite back and neck injuries and a broken rib, Smith managed to crawl out the back window of the Mazda.
“He desperately tried to get Scottie out of the car but couldn’t do it so he ran up on the road and literally stood in front of somebody and stopped their car,” said Frank Silfies, Scotlynn’s grandfather, who lives in Windsor.
“We got the call about 7:19 p.m. and I was only a minute away when the call came in,” Chief Spaulding recalled, noting that the passersby who’d stopped to help had gotten Silfies out of the wreckage at that point and first responders immediately began performing CPR on her before she was eventually taken by a Golden Cross Ambulance crew to Valley Regional Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Silfies’ grandfather, who works in the mental health field, said he agreed with investigators who so far have said there is nothing to suggest alcohol or other substances were involved.
“They had been a couple for a while and she had just sort of broken up with him but they were still friends and he’d been over to her apartment in Claremont and she was just giving him a ride home,” Silfies said. “If she didn’t trust him to drive he wouldn’t have been driving. If Scottie had any inkling at all that Seth had been drinking he wouldn’t have been driving. First of all she would not have risked her car to someone who was half-drunk and she would not have risked herself. She had some very strong, inviolate rules and that was one of them.”
Silfies and his wife, Sallyann, who is the pastor at the Greater Hartford United Church of Christ went with Scotlynn’s parents, Chris Silfies and Shelby Packard, to visit Smith as he recuperated at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center mid-week.
“He’s 20, but he’s 15,” Frank Silfies said. “He’s struggling very hard now and we are just trying to make him understand this was not his fault. This is not something he should be beating himself up for and our intention is to do whatever we can to take care of him.”
The family is planning a celebration of Scotlynn’s life for Saturday the 12th with a location and time to be announced.
Scotlynn had grown up on the Charlestown-Claremont town line and graduated last year from Fall Mountain High School.
“She was an only child. Her parents divorced not that long ago but she managed to stay close to them. Her dad and her mom were real important to her,” Silfies said, noting, “She was an incredible kid, she really was. If she was your friend she wanted the best from you. She was a redhead and she had a temper…but when she got mad at people it was because they weren’t being what they could be. One of her friends got into drugs and Scottie hung in there with her at first but then said, ‘I can’t deal with you and I’m not going to deal with you if you keep doing that.’ That’s the kind of kid she was. She and Seth had their issues but she cared about him as a human being. She was an amazing kid that way.”
Silfies noted that his granddaughter had just moved into an apartment on her own two months ago.
“She took some courses in nursing at River Valley Community College but then she decided she needed to take some time and just settle down before she started to pursue what she was really going to be when she grew up so her mom worked at National Field Representatives and they’d hired her part-time last summer and they liked what she did so they hired her full-time.”
Recalling Scotlynn’s birth, Silfies said, “We called her our miracle baby because she was born with Congenital Diaphramatic Hernias, a condition which, at the time she was born, gave her a 6 percent chance of survival. Coupled with that were three heart defects as well. DHMC repaired the hernia when she was two days old, the heart defects healed, she grew into a beautiful, healthy, bright, loving teenager.”
“Much as I hate to call car crashes ‘accidents’ it appears that’s what it was. The family followed her wishes and she became an organ donor. This was important to Scottie and in her death, she continues to help others,” Silfies said. “I love talking about Scottie, but it’s hard right now.”
Weathersfield Police said the crash resulted in Route 131 being closed for approximately four hours Sunday evening while the Vermont State Police Crash Reconstruction Team surveyed the area and conducted their investigation.
Members of the Windsor County State’s Attorney’s Office said Monday that the police investigation into what led to the fatal mishap is still active and there is no indication yet whether any of the circumstances surrounding the crash will merit criminal charges.
Weathersfield Police are asking anyone who might have information regarding the crash to contact Patrolman Jen Hutchins at (802) 674-1082.