Minutes before Elizabeth Croke died in a head-on collision with a Honda pickup on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack last week, the pickup was seen making a U-turn and heading north in the southbound lane.
The crash claimed her life as well as that of the pickup’s driver, Vincent P. Forgione, 24, of Windham.
“Impaired operation on the part of Forgione is a suspected contributing factor,” state police said in a news release on Wednesday.
Croke, 20, of Merrimack, was a 2019 graduate of Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, and was studying kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Lizzy was a ray of sunshine and touched all of our lives in a positive way. Our prayers join with yours as we surround the Croke family with love and support,” Bishop Guertin said in a statement.
Croke played girls basketball at Bishop Guertin, and was a member of the National Honor Society, Latin National Honor Society and served as a student ambassador and received honors recognition from The Society of Women Engineers for excellence in science and mathematics.
Saint Christopher Academy in Nashua, where Croke previously attended, is also grieving the life of a young woman taken too soon.
“We will forever remember Lizzy’s beautiful spirit as we watched her grow into a bright and confident young woman,” the school said in a statement. “All of our heartfelt love and prayers are with the entire Croke family, now and always.”
Before the collision, a caller told police that a gray 2009 Honda Ridgeline pickup truck was driving erratically on I-93 in Hooksett. Eighteen minutes later, while state police were searching for the vehicle, a crash was reported on the turnpike in Merrimack on April 15.
Troopers determined that Forgione’s truck had crashed head-on into a gray, 2016 Audi Q5 driven by Croke, 20, of Merrimack; both died at the scene of the 12:15 a.m. crash.
“The investigation has revealed a witness that observed the Honda executing a U-turn on the Everett Turnpike in Merrimack and subsequently driving in the wrong direction — northbound in the southbound lane — moments before the crash,” police said in a statement.
Forgione was a 2015 graduate of Windham High School and was most recently employed with Merchants Fleet in Hooksett; he had a finance degree from the University of New Hampshire. According to his obituary, Forgione was co-captain of the hockey and lacrosse teams during his time at Windham High School.
He was buried Tuesday.
Calling hours for Croke are from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday at Rivet Funeral Home in Merrimack. A celebration of life will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Croke residence.