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Two cyclists killed in annual group bike ride in New Hampshire

By Karen Brooks

(Reuters) - Two cyclists died in New Hampshire on Saturday when a car slammed into an annual group bike ride up the New England coast that draws up to 1,600 riders a year, police said.

The 40th annual Granite State Wheelmen Tri-State Seacoast Century Ride had been on the road for less than two hours when a car driven by 20-year-old Darrien Hess crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a group of four, according to a statement by the Hampton Police Department in New Hampshire.

Pamela Wells, 60, and Elise Bouchard, 52, both of Massachusetts, died in the morning crash, police said. Two more cyclists, as well as Hess, were taken to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

The police statement did not say whether charges would be filed.

The ride has been hosted each year by the Granite State Wheelmen bicycling club since the group's inception in 1971.

It runs over two days in late September and features routes ranging from 25 to 100 miles along the Atlantic coast, starting and ending at New Hampshire's Hampton Beach State Park.

Police did not say whether the event would continue on Sunday, and calls to the club phone number on Saturday were not answered.

It was unclear how many riders had signed up for this weekend's ride, but the event site said the club limits registrants to 1,600 riders.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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