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Updated: Durham man killed in Route 4 crash was judge in Candia; others remain hospitalized

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 24. 2013 10:47PM

DURHAM -- A New Hampshire judge killed in a two-car crash on Route 4 is being remembered as a "generous and giving" man.

Bruce R. Larson, 74, of Durham was pronounced dead at the scene of Saturday's crash, which happened just before 9 a.m. near the State Police weigh station. Deputy Police Chief Rene Kelley identified the men in the other car as Ryan T. Merchant, 22, of Wakefield, Mass., and Martin V. Hyppolite, 22, of Malden, Mass.

Merchant was in critical condition Sunday night at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston; Hyppolite was in stable condition at Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Kelley said Larson was headed west in his 2000 Buick when he was hit, almost head-on, by a 2004 Chrysler Sebring driven by Merchant.

"He was a very generous person, a very giving person," said Walker Wheeler, a neighbor of Larson's on Piscataqua Road in Durham, who said he became friends with the judge over the last 15 years they lived next to each other. "He was a lovable person, and a very good neighbor. I enjoyed talking with him whenever I would see him. It was a shock when I heard he died."

Wheeler said Larson, a special justice for Candia District Court, was retired.

"He said he was planning on heading to Florida," Wheeler said, adding: "The neighborhood here is shaken by this. It's quite a loss. He'll be missed."

"My sympathies go out to his family and colleagues," said longtime New Hampshire attorney David Nixon of the Manchester law firm Nixon, Vogelman, Barry, Slawsky and Simoneau. "The New Hampshire Bar Association has lost a longtime and well-respected member. He was an admired lawyer, and a respected judge by those that knew and worked with him. He was a kind and compassionate man."

Mike Sivgny said he met Larson six months ago, when he moved into the first floor of what was Larson's home in Durham as a tenant. Sivgny said Larson had sold the home to a buyer in New Jersey, and lived on the second floor of the home as a tenant, with Sivgny renting the first floor.

"I was shaken when the police officer told me about the accident," said Sivgny. "I knew him as a very nice man, a sailor, someone who loved boats and being on the water. He wasn't able to do the things he liked much lately because of health reasons, but he talked about them, and he talked about being a judge. It's unfortunate the way he passed. We talked Friday night, and he was in good spirits then."

Kelley said Sunday that early indications are the driver of the Sebring was attempting to pass when he hit the Buick, driver's side door to driver's side door. Durham police said their investigation into the accident is ongoing, and they could not comment if speed or alcohol were factors.

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