Townsend police sergeant, wife identified as victims in deadly wrong-way NH crash

EPPING, N.H. (WHDH) - A longtime Townsend police sergeant and his wife were killed after a wrong-way driver triggered a three-car crash in Epping, New Hampshire, late Thursday night, according to state police.

Troopers responding to reports of a wrong-way driver on Route 101 westbound near exit 7 just before midnight found a serious crash involving three mangled vehicles.

A preliminary investigation suggests Ryan Kittredge, 31, of Derry, New Hampshire, made a U-turn on Route 101 west and was traveling east in his 1998 Dodge 1500 pickup truck when he collided with 58-year-old John Johnson, of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, who was traveling west in the righthand lane with his wife, 57-year-old Heidi Johnson, police said.

The impact stopped both vehicles, causing them to block Route 101.

Epping Fire & Rescue Department

Andrew Neeper, 23, of Raymond, N.H., who was traveling westbound in the right lane, was unable to see the vehicles blocking the road and collided with the Dodge truck, according to state police.

John Johnson, who has served with the Townsend Police Department since 1978, and Heidi Johnson, were pronounced dead at the scene.

“Today we are holding Sergeant John Johnson and his wife Heidi in our hearts. Our thoughts are with their loved ones, the Townsend Police Department, and the people of Townsend as they grapple with this tragedy,” Attorney General Maura Healey wrote on Twitter.

Purple and black bunting has been hung outside police headquarters in Townsend in honor of Johnson, who was retired but continued to work as a reserve officer.

“John was always happy. He was willing to do just about everything,” Townsend Police Chief Rick Bailey said. “He loved the community. Every year he helped organize a cookout at the senior center. He was the prime chef.”

Kittredge was transported to Exeter Hospital with serious injuries and later taken by medical helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Charges have not yet been filed against Kittredge but police said they believe alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

He has a previous drunken driving conviction out of Conway, New Hampshire, in 2014, according to court documents.

Neeper was also taken to Exeter Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Route 101 westbound at exit 7 was closed for several hours after the crash.

An investigation is ongoing.

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