EPPING —The man who died in a crash on Route 101 West in Epping Thursday night was a retired longtime sergeant in Townsend, Massachusetts, the police chief there announced Friday morning.
The sergeant's wife was also killed in the crash.
Sgt. John Johnson, 58, and his wife, Heidi Johnson, 57, were pronounced dead on the New Hampshire highway following a three-car crash caused by a Derry man driving in the wrong direction, police said.
"It is with great sadness that I am sharing news of the tragic death of Sgt. John Johnson and his wife in a car crash," Townsend Police Chief Richard Bailey wrote on the department's Facebook page. "Sgt. Johnson has served the Townsend community since 1978. Please take time to remember this fine officer and his family."
Investigators said Ryan Kittredge, 31, of Derry was driving a 1998 Dodge 1500 pickup truck just before midnight when he made a U-turn on the highway and started traveling the wrong direction.
As of press time Friday, his condition was unknown, as were any potential charges against him.
According to court records, Kittredge was convicted of disorderly conduct and an ordinance violation in Hampton in July 2008, when he was 20 years old. A judge ordered him to pay $240 in fines.
In 2015, Kittredge was charged in Conway with DUI and DUI second or third offense, court documents say. The subsequent charge was dropped, and Kittredge only pleaded guilty to DUI.
He was required to take an impaired driver care management program shortly after the ruling. Kittredge also had to give up his license for 18 months, but had the ability to petition for its early return after a year, which he did successfully.
A total of $1,240 in fines were paid by Kittredge in that case.
In the crash Thursday night, investigators said John Johnson's 2008 Chevrolet Impala was "unable to avoid the collision" with Kittredge's truck, police said.
Johnson and his wife, both of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
The cars blocked both lanes of the highway after the crash, causing the third car, a 2015 Ford Fusion driven by 23-year-old Andrew Neeper of Raymond to hit them, police said.
Neeper was "unable to see the vehicles blocking the roadway as they were completely dark," a press release from the State Police said. Neeper was taken to Exeter Hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Kittredge was also taken to Exeter Hospital, but was later taken by helicopter to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. His condition was not immediately known Friday morning.
Police said the highway was closed for several hours while the New Hampshire Collision Analysis Reconstruction Unit responded to the scene.
State police were also assisted by first responders from the Epping Police Department, the Epping Fire Department and the Brentwood Fire Department, along with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has more information related to it is asked to contact Trooper Daniel Quartulli at 603-223-8993 or email@example.com.