Tucker’s restaurant in Dover was closed Wednesday so workers there could mourn the death of full-time server Ashley Shunk, who was killed in a car crash on Route 101 in Candia overnight.
“We’re such a close-knit group, it’s just really hard to lose someone so important,” said co-owner Erica Cole-Tucker of the 21-year-old who started working at the popular breakfast and lunch spot in June 2017.
New Hampshire State Police said Shunk was pronounced dead at the scene after a single-car accident involving a Kia Forte in which she was traveling as a passenger. Christopher Wadleigh, 27, of Hampton, was at the wheel when the eastbound sedan veered off the road about 1:15 a.m., state police said.
The car traveled down an embankment and crashed into trees. Wadleigh was taken to Elliot Hospital in Manchester for treatment of serious injuries. According to state police, speed played a role in the accident, which remains under investigation.
Shunk lived in a townhouse on Durham Road in Dover, and worked at Tucker’s near the intersection of routes 108 and 9. Employees gathered inside the closed restaurant on Wednesday to grieve together and celebrate Shunk’s life.
Cole-Tucker said Shunk was one of the first employees hired at the Dover location. She described Shunk as a passionate and caring woman with a strong work ethic. Shunk’s absence will be felt by many of the restaurant’s regulars, she said.
“She cared so much about her customers — she had so many people that loved seeing her every day and it’s definitely going to be hard to not have her there,” Cole-Tucker said.
She added: “She would come into work and just be so dedicated. She would work hard from the minute she got there until the end of the day. She would never stop working, or seeing how she could help her team. She just cared so much about everyone she met and everything that she did.”
The love for Shunk from the Tucker’s community was apparent on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“Ashley was such a beautiful young woman,” wrote Steve Brown. “We came to know her so well at Tucker’s. We are heartbroken for her family. I pray God will give them his grace through this deeply painful time.”
“A lovely girl and a friend of my daughter’s,” wrote Chrstina Woody Van Blake of Dover. “Bright and sunny. So sad. We will miss her. My heart breaks for all her family, close and extended.”
Anyone who witnessed the accident or may have information about it is asked to contact Trooper Brian Ross at 223-8652, or email him at Brian.Ross@dos.nh.gov.