Victim in Amherst fatal mourned

Londonderry police officer arrested on one count of aggravated driving while intoxicated

Photo by JEFFREY HASTINGS Tyler Berry, the Londonderry police officer charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated in the Friday night Amherst crash that killed a local woman, was among the officers who worked at the scene of the suspicious death in Londonderry on Friday, hours before the fatal crash.

AMHERST – A Milford High School honors student who graduated in the Class of 2016, Sierra Croteau went on to study nursing, the ideal career for a young woman “who had the ability to brighten anyone’s day” by exuding the compassion and thoughtfulness for which she was known.

But now, the legions of people who called Croteau friend, daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece and cousin are struggling to regroup and move forward without the 21-year-old woman whose “greatest joy came from spending time with her family,” according to her obituary, posted by the Smith & Heald Funeral Home in Milford.

Croteau, who most recently was living in Manchester, died Friday night just before midnight when the 2008 Hyndai Santa Fe she was driving east on Route 101 in Amherst was struck head-on by a 2018 GMC 2500 pickup truck.

The driver, Tyler Berry, 27, of Amherst, is a Londonderry police officer, having joined the department last year after serving roughly two years as a Bedford police officer.

State police investigators said Berry sustained serious injuries and was transported to Catholic Medical Center in Manchester. A short time later, police arrested Berry on one count of aggravated driving while intoxicated.

It wasn’t known late Sunday if Berry was still a patient at the hospital or had been released. The nature of his injuries weren’t disclosed, nor was his present condition.

Police haven’t said if Berry remains in police custody as he recovers from his injuries. An arraignment date has yet to be scheduled.

Meanwhile, several Amherst and state police units, along with Amherst firefighters and medical personnel, converged on the scene shortly after the crash was reported about 11:30 p.m. Friday.

They said Croteau “sustained fatal injuries” and was pronounced deceased at the scene, while Berry was treated at the scene then taken to the hospital.

An initial on-scene investigation, police said, indicated Berry’s truck, which was headed west on Route 101, crossed the yellow center line and struck Croteau’s vehicle head-on.

One observer said the crash happened along the same stretch of Route 101 – near Old Manchester and Pine roads – as last week’s rollover crash of an Eversource line truck, in which two employees were trapped for a time until firefighters were able to free them.

Both were taken to local hospitals, but their injuries weren’t considered life-threatening.

As for Friday’s crash, police said members of the State Police Collision analysis and Reconstruction (CAR) Unit were called in to assist in the investigation.

Police closed a section of Route 101 for several hours while the on-scene investigation took place.

State police said that while “it appears impairment was a factor in this crash,” all aspects remain under investigation.

Anyone who has any information on the crash is asked to contact state police Trooper First Class Bryan Plamondon at 223-8677 or bryan.plamondon@dos.nh.gov.

By Saturday morning, social media applications, most notably Facebook, were brimming with comments related to the crash.

Most expressed sorrow and sadness over Croteau’s death in what some called a tragedy and others called “avoidable.”

While a handful of comments questioned why Berry was charged with aggravated DWI rather than negligent homicide, more of them praised Londonderry police for their service and, in a couple of cases, for being transparent regarding Berry’s arrest.

The comment referred to a statement Londonderry police posted on the department’s Facebook page advising the public the town and police department “have been informed of the tragic events which unfolded (Friday) night in Amherst involving Sierra Croteau and Londonderry Patrol Officer Tyler Berry.

“First and foremost,” the statement reads, “we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Sierra Croteau.”

It goes on to say it’s the department’s “understanding that Tyler Berry has been arrested and charge in connection with this matter.”

The department “will cooperate fully with the investigation and take appropriate action when more facts are known,” the statement concludes.

Croteau, who was born in Keene, lived most of her life in Milford and Wilton, according to her obituary. She leaves her parents, Joseph and Amy (Aldrich) Houle of Milford; her biological father and mother, Andy Croteau and Debbie Bashaw, two brothers, a sister and numerous other relatives.

Visiting hours are scheduled for Friday from 4-7 p.m. at Smith & Heald, 63 Elm St. Milford. The family asks that donations in her memory be made to Home Health & Hospice Care in Merrimack, or to a Boys & Girls Club of the donor’s choice.