Beloved city woman killed in crash

Loading dougnnuts to serve after Mass when hit by alleged drunken drive

HAVERHILL — A woman known for her generosity was struck and killed by an alleged drunken driver early yesterday as she was loading doughnuts into her car — doughnuts she planned to serve after Mass at Sacred Hearts.

Karen LaPierre, who with her husband Bill LaPierre ran the Angelo Petrozzelli Food Pantry at Sacred Hearts Church, was standing behind her 2010 Ford Taurus parked in front of 55 South Main St. at 5:20 a.m.

Police said she was struck from behind by a 2003 Nissan Altima driven by Lisa Leavitt, 37, of 15 Lapierre St., Haverhill. Police said Leavitt was traveling south on South Main Street at the time. Bill LaPierre was with his wife at the time but was not injured.

Police arrested Leavitt and charged her with motor vehicle homicide while intoxicated and negligent driving. Leavitt is to be arraigned on the charges today in Haverhill District Court.

Karen LaPierre was always at her husband Bill LaPierre’s side. Aside from their work with the food pantry, the LaPierres helped distribute Thanksgiving dinners to families throughout the city and collected Christmas gifts from parishioners to give to children in the city.

Every Sunday morning, the LaPierres would pick up boxes of doughnuts at Heav’nly Donuts to serve following Masses. When they would get to the church, they would start brewing the coffee, said Holly Roche, business manager for Sacred Hearts.

“She was a wonderful person and all she and Bill did was to volunteer their time for the benefit of our parish and community,” Roche said. “Everybody is devastated and can’t understand how something like this could happen to such a wonderful person who has done so much. Our hearts go out to Bill and his family.”

The couple also worked together on other parish outreach projects, including an adopt-a-family program that provides Thanksgiving dinners to hundreds of families throughout the community each year.

At Christmas, they coordinated a giving tree program that provides gifts to children in the community. Throughout the year, they run the food pantry, which is open three days a week and serves more than 1,000 families a month.

The Rev. Timothy Kearney, pastor of All Saints Parish, called Karen LaPierre a warm and gracious woman who is as loved in the community as her husband is.

“Parishioners at both Sacred Hearts and All Saints were saddened not just because of Bill’s loss, but also because Karen was such a wonderful woman,” Kearney said.

He said parishioners at St. Patrick’s in Groveland, which merged with Sacred Hearts, at Sacred Hearts and at All Saints were informed during Masses yesterday of Karen LaPierre’s death, although details of the tragic accident were not discussed.

“People know her so well that I included her name in the prayer for the faithful and asked to keep the LaPierre family in their prayers,” Kearney said.

Among their community service, Bill and Karen LaPierre have long displayed a deep love and support for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill.

“They recently brought us more than 100 gifts from Sacred Hearts Parish to give to Boys and Girls Club members who attended our recent annual holiday party,” said club director Brian Theirrien. “For some of these children, it may be the only gift they receive this year.”

Thompson said a stretch of South Main Street between Middlesex Street and South Pleasant Street was closed to traffic for most of yesterday morning while an investigation was conducted by Haverhill Police Traffic Safety Officer Edward Watson, along with members of the Massachusetts State Police. Both vehicles were towed from the scene.