BRENTWOOD, N.H. -- Initially restrained in the handcuffs retired Townsend Sgt. John Johnson used for nearly four decades, the alleged wrong-way driver who crashed into Johnson and his wife Heidi hobbled on crutches into superior court Friday to face charges in connection with their deaths.
As Johnson family members and police officers looked on, Ryan Kittredge, 31, of Derry, N.H., was arraigned on charges of negligent homicide and reckless conduct in the Rockingham Superior Courthouse. He was held without bail, after both the prosecutor and judge called him a "danger to the community."
"There are no conditions that could ensure the community's safety," said Jennifer Haggar, Rockingham deputy county attorney.
Kittredge turned himself in to Epping Police on Friday morning, a day after police obtained an arrest warrant in connection to the Route 101 crash that killed John, 58, and Heidi, 57, on Jan. 10.
Police believe that impairment was a contributing factor, and they're still waiting on toxicology results. Kittredge was previously a two-time drunk driver. Most recently, Kittredge was convicted for a DUI in Conway four years ago.
Police at the crash scene Jan. 10 observed signs of impairment in Kittredge, including glassy eyes, mumbling and slurred speech. Police also smelled an odor of alcohol.
Kittredge told police he had been at a bar and friend's house, and had consumed two beers. There is no timeline on the toxicology results.
Charges could be upgraded in the future for the double-fatal crash.
"The Johnsons never had a chance to see him," Lt. John Hennessey of the New Hampshire State Police said during a press conference Friday morning in the Epping Safety Complex training room.
"Unfortunately, we see this type of tragic crash all the time," he later added. "It's preventable. It shouldn't have happened."
Johnson was less than six months into retirement, following 39 years on the force.
He and his wife were known to everyone in town, reflected Townsend Deputy Chief James Sartell on Friday. While Sartell was pleased with the investigation's progress, he stressed that it's a very difficult time for the Police Department and community.
"Unfortunately, nothing dulls the pain of losing fixtures in the community like Mr. and Mrs. Johnson," Sartell said.
The Johnsons on Jan. 10, around 11:40 p.m., were driving home from Maine, where they had watched their great-niece's basketball game that day.
Witnesses say Kittredge had just made a U-turn with his pickup truck before the crash. He was allegedly driving eastbound in the westbound lane of Route 101 in Epping, and hit the Johnsons' Chevrolet Impala head-on.
Kittredge suffered serious injuries in the crash. Andrew Neeper, of Raymond, then crashed his Ford Fusion into the wreckage. He suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Defense attorney Stephanie Arani on Friday requested personal recognizance for Kittredge, emphasizing that he requires specialized medical care. He needs his hip drained and has a broken lower back, she said.
Kittredge has also obeyed previous court orders from prior DUI convictions, she added. He could follow a court order and not drive as a condition, the attorney argued.
However, Judge Andrew Schulman said Kittredge's conduct was "wildly reckless," and his release would endanger the community.
The investigation remains ongoing.
"I want to offer my sincere condolences to the Johnson family, and to our brother and sister officers in the Townsend Police Department," Hennessey said.
Johnson family members at the arraignment requested privacy.
"They're obviously very torn up about what happened," Haggar said. "They're grieving the loss of two incredible individuals."
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.