Victim in deadly Seabrook crash alleges driver once stated, 'You better watch your back'
By JASON SCHREIBER Union Leader Correspondent
Court documents reveal several past disputes between neighbors Stephen and Erin VanDalinda and Catrina Costello, who live next to each other on Greenleaf Drive in Seabrook. (Jason Schreiber/Correspondent)
SEABROOK - Erin VanDalinda was so concerned about her safety living next to Catrina Costello that she went to court last year to get a protective order.
“You better watch your back,” Costello allegedly told her in a statement VanDalinda submitted to Seabrook Circuit Court in September 2017.
Court documents reveal the tension between the two Greenleaf Drive neighbors that existed long before Costello allegedly ran into VanDalinda and her husband, Stephen, in a truck while they were out for their early evening walk Wednesday with their German shepherd on Pine Street.
VanDalinda suffered serious injuries while her husband and their dog were killed.
Costello faces multiples charges accusing her of driving drunk, failing to stop, and violating the protection order when she allegedly struck the couple.
In her petition for the protection order, which was granted last September, VanDalinda alleged that Costello had engaged in bullying and harassing behavior.
She noted an incident on Sept. 3, 2016, in which she claimed Costello threatened her and trespassed on the VanDalindas’ property with her two pitbulls. She wrote that her pet was attacked, her husband suffered a bite, and that they caused property damage.
VanDalinda referred to other alleged incidents that continued last year. She claimed that someone from Costello’s residence shined a greenlight laser on her and her husband and on another occasion was on her back porch yelling obscenities at them and then confronted them while they were taking their dog for a walk.
VanDalinda alleged that Costello made derogatory remarks about his military service and sexual innuendos.
Stephen VanDalinda served 23 years with the Massachusetts Army National Guard and seven years with the Massachusetts Air National Guard before retiring as a lieutenant colonel/chief nurse with the 102nd Medical Group at Otis Air National Guard Base.
Costello asked to have the protective order dismissed, but the judge denied her request.
Costello, who denied many of VanDalinda’s claims, wrote that since the incident with the dogs “there has been extreme discontent.”
“I believe the excessive dispute with constant complaints and false accusations to the local authorities is to initiate a stronger case to prevent a lawsuit on my behalf which involved personal injuries (dog bite to myself as well as my dog) which occurred on their property by their dog,” Costello wrote.
She made several claims against the VanDalindas and insisted that she was “being discriminated against by neighbors as if I am a criminal, simply for an accident (dog incident) that I was able to justify due to quick reactions on my behalf. Whether or not it is for their own personal entertainment to create more drama throughout the neighborhood, I prefer to keep to myself and refrain from building relationships with neighbors based on false pretenses,” Costello wrote.
In later filings, VanDalinda continued to express concern about Costello’s behavior.
“I am in fear of my safety and my family’s safety due to Ms. Costello’s erratic, aggressive, accusatory, frightful and threatening behavior,” she wrote, adding that the protection order request “was not in retaliation or because we want to prevent a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Costello.”