The family of Leah Fonda Preiss, the St. Paul woman killed in a crash with a drunk driver on a honeymoon road trip through New England, released the following statement Wednesday:
We are absolutely devastated and heartbroken over the death of Leah and serious injury to Brian at the hands of an irresponsible driver. We all are left with a gaping hole in our lives, and there are no words to describe our sudden loss of an amazing woman. She was a woman who dearly cherished her family and friends, an aunt who treated her like a daughter, a sister who shared in many adventures, a sister in law who became a sister, and her dearly cherished nephews. She was a woman who fell madly in love with a man she had known for many years just as a friend. She was a kind loving person who had a quiet strength about her and would do just about anything to help someone. Leah is a one-of-a-kind soul who will be deeply missed.
It is especially tragic that Leah's death comes a week after her wedding and a little more than a week before her 31st birthday at the hands of someone who acted carelessly and irresponsibly by drinking and driving. There are no words for our anger and disappointment at the driver's decision to do so. It was at his hands that our beloved Leah was taken away from us and the life she had dreamed of for so long. It is unfathomable that within in a week Leah and Brian had both the best and worst days of their lives. There is no sense to this that we can see, but we hope that this is an eye opening event for many about the consequences of drinking and driving and that they will chose to act responsibly.
During this very difficult time we would greatly appreciate that you respect our need for privacy.
The family of Leah Fonda Preiss
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Leah Fonda Preiss Memorial Fund
c/o Wells Fargo Bank
809 10th Avenue North
Sartell, MN 56377
Contributions to the Leah Fonda Preiss Memorial Fund can also be made at any Wells Fargo Bank Branch.
New Hampshire State Trooper Christopher Storm said 43-year-old Matthew Tsopas was driving west on Route 4 in Rollinsford, N.H. when his car drifted all the way into the eastbound lane and struck the car driven by the newlyweds.
Tsopas fled the scene but was located a short time later and brought to the hospital, where he was charged with negligent homicide, felony DUI and felony conduct after an accident.
Fonda, 30, died in the crash. Preiss, 30, was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is recovering from internal injuries and facial cuts with family by his side. He was in surgery Wednesday and his condition has been upgraded to good. The family hopes to have him home next week.
Fonda and Preiss, both Mall of America amusement park employees, were married during an intimate ceremony on July 12 in Bloomington. They were one week and one day into their honeymoon when the crash occurred. Just before the crash, the couple called Preiss' parents to let them know they were on their way to Niagara Falls.