August 30. 2018 11:53AM

Driver charged in fatal Seabrook pedestrian crash was under restraining order to stay away from wife of victim

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent


State police investigate the scene where neighbors said two people were hit on Pine Street in Seabrook Wednesday night. (Jason Schreiber)

SEABROOK — A Seabrook woman is charged with second-degree murder after she allegedly aimed her truck at a neighbor and then accelerated as she plowed into him and his wife while they were walking their dog early Wednesday evening.

Catrina Costello, 38, is being held without bail following the deadly encounter with neighbors Erin VanDalinda, 61, who suffered serious injuries, and her 64-year-old husband, Stephen, who was killed along with their German shepherd.

Costello allegedly drove away after hitting the couple and was arrested a short time later. 

The death came after a long-standing dispute between the two Greenleaf Drive neighbors that prompted Erin VanDalinda to seek a protective order against Costello last September. 

The crash happened Wednesday around 6:20 p.m. on Pine Street, which is located near Greenleaf Drive.

The couple bought the property at 20 Greenleaf Drive in 1997 and was known to walk the neighborhood. They were in the process of selling their house and moving out of town. Costello lives at 21 Greenleaf Drive, which is located next door to the VanDalindas.

In addition to the second-degree murder charge, which alleges that she recklessly caused Stephen VanDalinda’s death by aiming her vehicle at him and accelerating when she hit him, Costello is charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of driving while intoxicated, and two counts of conduct after an accident. All are felonies. 

She also faces three misdemeanor counts of violating a protective order issued in a stalking case last September. The order issued by the Seabrook Circuit Court prohibited Costello from having any contact with Erin VanDalinda or her relatives. 

Senior Assistant Attorney General Geoff Ward said the results of an autopsy showed Stephen VanDalinda died of blunt-force trauma to his head, torso, and extremities. His wife, who remains hospitalized, suffered numerous injuries, including broken ribs, a broken femur, a fractured tibia and collapsed lung.

Costello entered not-guilty pleas and waived her arraignment Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court. She is being held without bail.

The fatal crash stunned the relatively quiet neighborhood.

Brian and Kay Henderson, who live across the street from the VanDalindas, fought back tears as they spoke about their neighbors.

“They were happy. They were funny. They were glorious to all. I loved them ... If you needed help they were there on a dime,” Kay said.

“I never saw Steve in a bad mood,” her husband said.

The death also shook Stephen VanDalinda’s coworkers at Exeter Hospital, where he was employed as a nurse. 

“Exeter Hospital’s administration, clinical providers and staff are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Stephen VanDalinda, a longtime nurse in Exeter Hospital’s Outpatient Surgery Center. Stephen was a lovely man and a great nurse who made magic every day. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathy to the VanDalinda family,” the hospital said in a statement. 

He also 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.

Greenleaf Drive resident and local Selectman Aboul Khan, said he also knows the couple. “They’re a wonderful family. Wonderful people. They’re really, really good people. You cannot find better people in this world,” he said.

rockinghamnews@unionleader.com