AMHERST — A Londonderry police officer faces aggravated drunken driving charges after the pickup truck he was driving Friday night crashed head-on into an SUV, killing the Manchester woman who was at the wheel.
Sierra E. Croteau, 21, died of her injuries at the scene of the crash on Route 101 that local police first responded to at 11:30 p.m. Friday.
The Union Leader confirmed the driver of that pickup, Tyler Berry, 27, of Amherst, joined the Londonderry Police Department as a patrolman in January 2018. Berry was not on duty at the time of the crash, officials said.
State police were investigating the crash and said impairment appears to have been a factor but the cause remained under investigation.
On social media, Croteau’s mother, Amy Aldrich Houle of Milford and relatives and friends shared fond memories of Croteau, who was working as a licensed nursing assistant at BrightCare of Bedford, which provides in-home services.
There were more than 300 comments on one Facebook page, many tributes to Sierra’s life that ended so tragically.
“My daughter didn’t deserve to die like that,” Houle posted on Facebook Saturday.
A Keene native, Croteau was a 2016 graduate of Milford High School and lived in Wilton and Milford for most of her life.
She attended the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health before working in the health care field.
“She was my darling little cousin,” posted a woman identifying herself as Emily Kyle. “I remember her as the little girl who loved watching ‘Inuyasha’ and was always in a good mood. I loved her so much and it tears my heart to see my sweet Sierra gone.”
“Inuyasha” was a TV series about a teenage girl in feudal Japan.
“Sierra was so thoughtful, compassionate, kindhearted and had the ability to brighten anyone’s day,” her obituary states. (See obituary Page A5). “She always accomplished whatever goals she set for herself, no matter how hard they may have been. In her spare time, she enjoyed reading and loved to cook but her greatest joy came from spending time with her family.”
The Londonderry Police Department issued a statement Saturday afternoon that offered comfort to Croteau’s extended family.
“First and foremost, we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Sierra Croteau,” the statement said.
“It is our understanding that Tyler Berry has been arrested and charged in connection with this matter. As his employer, we will cooperate fully with the investigation and take appropriate action when more facts are known.”
Asked what Berry’s current job status was, Londonderry Sgt. Christopher J. Olson said, “At this time he is active pending the investigation.”
According to state police, Croteau was driving a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe heading east when Berry, driving a 2018 GMC Sierra 2500 pickup in the westbound lane, crossed the center line and struck Croteau’s SUV head on.
Berry suffered serious injuries and was taken to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester for treatment.
He was later arrested at the hospital for aggravated DWI, state police said.
Berry was hired by the Bedford Police Department in April 2016 to attend the Police Standards and Training Academy and become a police officer. At that time, Bedford officials said Berry had served in the U.S. Navy and lived in New Hampton prior to being hired by the town.
The collision occurred on Route 101 near the intersection of Old Manchester Road and Pine Road.
A section of Route 101 in the area was closed for five hours while investigators documented the accident scene, officials said. The road was fully opened to traffic on Saturday morning.
Amherst Fire/EMS and Bedford police assisted other local and state agencies at the crash site, officials said.
Many area residents on social media said this section of Route 101 is very dangerous.
“I agree 101 is the WORST road in New England,” posted Carrie Mae, who said she lived in Manchester.
Anyone with information about this crash is urged to call Trooper 1st Class Bryan Plamondon at (603) 223-8677 or email him at Bryan.Plamondon@dos.nh.gov.