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Ex-candidate charged with lying after crash

N.H. man ran for Congress

Gary Dodds's disappearance after a car crash triggered a massive search last year. Gary Dodds's disappearance after a car crash triggered a massive search last year.

DOVER, N.H. -- A former congressional candidate has been charged with lying about his car crash and subsequent disappearance, which triggered a massive overnight search last year.

The charges against Democrat Gary Dodds, 42, were brought a year to the day after the accident on the Spaulding Turnpike.

On Wednesday, the Strafford County attorney's office charged Dodds, of Rye, with leaving the scene of an accident and causing false public alarm. Authorities said that the investigation continues and that more charges could follow. Dodds could face up to two years in jail if convicted.

Dodds did not respond to phone messages seeking comment yesterday afternoon.

He disappeared after crashing his car on April 5, 2006. A search dog and volunteer found him 27 hours later under a pile of leaves. Dodds suffered a concussion, frostbite on his feet, and what doctors called "situational amnesia."

He told police he crashed his Lincoln Continental, painted with the slogan "Dodds for Congress," into a guardrail, wandered away in a daze, swam across a river, and huddled in the woods for warmth until he was found, according to court documents.

Police expressed skepticism at the time. The questioned why only certain articles of his clothing were wet and why his body showed an absence of frostbite.

Dodds said he was on his way to meet his campaign treasurer the night he swerved his car to miss something in the road, possibly a deer, then crashed into a guardrail. He said he was disoriented and remembered climbing out of frigid water and covering himself with leaves to keep warm.

Dodds said he had frostbite on his feet, but authorities questioned why his hands, ears, nose and face weren't affected.