N.H. officer dies after single-car crash

By Faith Swymer
Union Leader Correspondent

HAMPTON FALLS, N.H. – A Seabrook police officer's journey back to work after undergoing treatment for cancer ended tragically Sunday when he was killed in a car accident during his weekly drive to get a Sunday newspaper and coffee.

State police said Sgt. Dana Bedell, an 18-year veteran with the Seabrook Police Department, died after his 1993 Ford F350 pickup drifted into the opposite lane of Route 1 and hit a utility pole around 6 a.m. Bedell, 43, of Kensington, died Sunday night after being flown by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in Lebanon.

Police are still investigating the accident, but said Bedell was driving south on Route 1 near the Hampton Falls Inn when he went into the northbound lane and struck the pole.

Seabrook Police Chief David Currier has known Bedell since he started at the department in 1989.

"This was very typical of Dana," Currier said of his weekly routine of heading to the store to buy a paper and coffee. "(Sunday) was no different."

Currier said the news of Bedell's death has been particularly heart-wrenching for the department since Bedell had planned to return to work within the next month after undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments for testicular cancer.

"He was anxious to get back to work," Currier said of Bedell, who had been exercising and getting himself up to speed for the job requirements. "We had a very positive outlook for him."

Currier said he learned of the accident hours early Sunday morning and drove to Exeter Hospital, where the Med-flight pilot allowed him to take the ride with Bedell to Lebanon.

"Obviously it's a numbing sensation," he said of the trip. "The police department is like an extended family."

Bedell, who rose up the ranks to sergeant in 2005, was described by Currier as a quiet, caring practical jokester who took his responsibilities at the department "very, very seriously."

Single at the time of his death, he leaves behind siblings and parents from Amesbury, Mass., where he grew up.

Before working at the Seabrook Police Department, he worked part-time shifts in the Hampton Falls and Epping police departments.

In tribute to Bedell, the department has draped the building in mourning bands and Gov. Lynch has approved the department's flag to fly at half-staff. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

Copyright 2007 The Union Leader

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