Fatal pursuit: Police records offer glimpse into moments before, after 2015 crash

  • A memorial to Trevor Gonyer, a Dunbarton teenager who died in July 2015 in a car crash, is seen in November.  Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • A map detailing New Boston police Officer Stephen Case’s pursuit of Trevor Gonyer, Ben Cook and Aaron Hodgdon. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • A picture of the truck teenagers Trevor Gonyer, Aaron Hodgdon and Ben Cook were riding in when it rolled over in Weare on July 3, 2015, ejecting all three and killing Gonyer. Courtesy of Hillsborough County

  • A shot of Milwaukee Iron Works at 636 N. Mast Road in New Boston, where New Boston police Officer Stephen Case spotted a truck containing Trevor Gonyer, Ben Cook and Aaron Hodgdon on July 3, 2015. The truck would later be involved in a car crash that would be fatal for Gonyer. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • The Weare town line is two-tenths of a mile from Milwaukee Iron Works, where New Boston police Officer Stephen Case first saw the truck carrying Trevor Gonyer, Ben Cook and Aaron Hodgdon the night of July 3, 2015. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor file

  • Elanor Way in Weare Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • Lanctot’s Center in Weare, where New Boston police Officer Stephen Case sees the brake lights of a truck containing Trevor Gonyer, Ben Cook and Aaron Hodgdon for the last time before the vehicle was involved in a car crash. The crash was fatal for Gonyer. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • Colby Road in Weare. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • Cold Springs RV in Weare maintains the land where a memorial to deceased Dunbarton teen Trevor Gonyer lies. The memorial is across from the company’s main office. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • A shot of the truck Trevor Gonyer, Ben Cook and Aaron Hodgdon were in before it rolled over and ejected all three occupants during a July 3, 2015 car crash.  Hillsborough County—Monitor photos

  • A memorial to Trevor Gonyer, a Dunbarton teen who died in July 2015 after being involved in a car crash, as seen in November. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor photos

  • Trevor Gonyer. Courtesy—

Monitor staff
Monday, March 12, 2018

 Editor's note: No one has ever been held accountable for the crash on July 3, 2015, that killed Dunbarton teenager Trevor Gonyer. The ‘Monitor’ pieced together what led to the fatal accident through a detailed review of public records.  

The timeline and documents included in this story includes dispatch audio and description from the scene of the crash. Reader discretion is advised.

On a clear July night more than 2 ½ years ago, a 1997 blue and silver GMC pickup truck fishtailed out of a New Boston motorcycle repair shop at 12:50 a.m., headed towards Weare.

The shop, Milwaukee Iron Works on Route 114 was within sight of the Weare town line. Inside were three teenagers – Dunbarton resident Trevor Gonyer, 17; Weare resident Aaron Hodgdon, 18; and Milford resident Ben Cook, 18, along with Leo, a black-and-gray pit bull riding in the back. With few street lights, the road was mostly lit by the full moon.

Passing by in a marked police cruiser was New Boston Officer Stephen Case. The truck’s speed, behavior, and darkened tail lights made him suspicious. He made a U-turn, turned on his blue emergency lights and accelerated.

Though Case wasn’t sure who was inside, he was familiar with the truck and who often drove it – the owner, Nick Bourgeois, but also Cook. The parties had had several run-ins in the past, including a contentious incident the week before that took place at the shop.

The truck briefly flashed its brake lights, then sped off, Case following. The chase quickly crossed into Weare, a road with a speed limit of 45 mph. The cruiser hit speeds of 78 mph. Case estimated the truck was going 85. None of the teenagers inside were wearing seatbelts.

According to New Boston police policy, officers are supposed to get approval from the chief to follow a vehicle into a different municipality. But Case didn’t inform anyone until he was over town lines.

“Been behind him for about a mile now,” Case radioed to dispatchers. “He’s not stopping. He did indicate with his brake lights that he saw me, but he’s increasing his speed.”

Less than two minutes and 2 miles later, the truck rolled over in front of Cold Springs RV, shattering windows, blowing out the windshield, losing a wheel. All three teenagers and the dog were ejected into a field of rocks and saplings and lay in critical condition.

Case called for help.

“Is that the vehicle you were trying to stop, or is it something else?” dispatch asked.

“Affirmative, it’s the vehicle I was trying to stop,” Case said. “Can hear moaning at this time. Send EMS please.”

More than an hour later, Gonyer was pronounced dead at Concord Hospital.

Piecing it together

Since the truck crash on July 3, 2015, that led to Gonyer’s death, questions linger about that night. Criminal charges against Cook were dismissed before a trial got off the ground because prosecutors lacked evidence of who was driving. No one has been held responsible for Gonyer’s death.

But audio tapes, video, transcript of interviews and court and police records obtained by the Monitor through a series of right-to-know requests have been able to shed some light not just on Case’s pursuit of the truck, but on the hours leading up to the chase, the scene of the crash and how police handled the investigation.

Those records paint a familiar picture to anyone who has grown up in small-town New Hampshire: a group of friends drinking. An argument that escalated too quickly. A young man who had been in trouble with the law; the police officer who had clashed with him, several times before.

Milwaukee Iron Works is just two-tenths of a mile from the Weare town border.

The shop was owned by Cook’s father, Douglas Cook, who had been in the business for around 25 years. Father and son had been at odds in the past, according to police records; at one point, Ben Cook wasn’t allowed on his father’s property. But by April 2015, the two had reconciled.

Bourgeois and Cook were well-known to New Boston police, with Cook having more than a dozen interactions – several with Case, who had been with the force for two years at the time of the crash – and a few arrests, according to police records. Bourgeois had about nine interactions.

A week before the crash, Case noticed a truck parked near the shop on June 26, 2015. When he pulled into the driveway, Cook and Bourgeois appeared in the window of an apartment above the shop.

Cook “began yelling at us to get off his property,” Case wrote in his account of the incident.

Case said in his June 26, 2015, incident report that he believed Cook was not allowed to be on his father’s property.

On the night of the fatal crash, the truck’s activity seemed suspicious, Case wrote, given the hour and a series of burglaries at a self-storage business on North Mast Road around May 27 and 28, 2015, as well as a stolen motorbike report on June 30, 2015, that Case investigated.

As the truck passed Case, he noted its taillights were not illuminated, which furthered his suspicion of criminal activity. He immediately activated his emergency lights and saw the truck’s brake lights flick on as he turned around.

Later, police would discover the truck failed inspection with “several issues,” including two tires lacking the proper tread depth, according to Storm’s report. The taillights, however, were operational.

Despite believing there was potential for criminal activity, Case wrote he did not believe the incident was going to be “any different from a normal traffic stop so I didn’t dramatically initially increase my speed.”

He also refrained from contacting dispatch.

“(I) typically do not initiate the radio traffic until the driver has indicated his intention to pull over, ” he wrote.

The chase

Case increased his speed when it became apparent the vehicle was not going to pull over, he wrote.

A bird’s-eye view of Route 114 here shows a winding stretch of road, populated with just a few houses and businesses. A sweeping curve just after Elanor Way can quickly hide any traffic.

New Boston police’s pursuit policy at the time said high-risk pursuit is only justified when the officer has reason to believe that the violator has committed or attempted to commit a serious felony against persons or serious injury or death will occur if the violator is not apprehended.

Officers should have their lights and sirens activated from the get-go to discourage people from fleeing. If pursuit continues, they must contact dispatch with a description of the vehicle and its occupants; the vehicle’s location, speed, and direction of travel; and the offense for which the vehicle is being pursued, the policy dictates.

“Stated simply, a pursuit is unacceptable when the pursuit itself endangers life more than the escape of the person being pursued,” the policy explains in bold writing.

There are several instances where termination of a pursuit must occur, the policy reads: If the police chief or their designee is not reached; if the police chief or designee determines pursuit is too dangerous; if the suspects have been identified and can be apprehended later; if the pursued vehicle outdistances the officer or its location is unknown or if the officer loses sight of the vehicle “other than momentarily;” and if the officer knows or reasonably believes the vehicle contains a juvenile and the offense does not include a violent felony.

Inter-jurisdictional pursuits are not encouraged, the policy reads. Should a pursuit cross town lines, the officer must notify the chief of police, who determines whether the pursuit should continue.

“If neither the Chief of Police or his designee can be reached the officer will terminate the pursuit,” the policy reads.

New Boston police Chief Brace learned of the pursuit after the crash when a dispatcher called him and left a voicemail. He arrived on scene at 1:41 a.m., according to his narrative of the incident. 

During the pursuit, Case reported he lost sight of the truck a few times along the winding road, and he estimated the distance between the vehicles to be about a half a mile.

Case lost sight of the truck for the second time as he passed Twin Bridge Road.

As he approached Twin Bridge Road – 1.3 miles from where the chase began – Case notified Bow police, who was providing dispatch services to New Boston at the time, of his pursuit. In the dispatch audio, Case estimates he’s been following the vehicle for “about a mile now.” The logs show the call came in at 12:50 a.m. He estimates he’s driving about 78 mph.

Case activated his emergency siren for the first time during the chase in the area of Twin Bridge Road “to verify the driver knew I was attempting to stop them.”

The last time Case spotted taillights was when the truck was approaching the area of Colby Road ahead. Case reported he passed a “wide arching skid” and noticed gravel in the road. He saw no sight of the vehicle. He made a U-turn at Cold Springs RV – 2.7 miles from the start of the chase – to see whether the vehicle had turned down any side streets.

Only then did Case notice the vehicle in the field across from Cold Springs RV, a “glimmer of metal, along with a cloud of smoke and dust.”

‘Two criminals’

Initially, Case thought the truck’s driver has tried to avoid him by pulling into the field and extinguishing the lights, he wrote.

He parked across the street and flooded the scene with his headlights, and he directed the driver to show his hands. He soon realized the vehicle had rolled over and reported the crash to dispatch at 12:51 a.m., exactly 98 seconds after he first reported the chase to dispatchers.

Approaching the wreck, Case came across a male subject on the ground, lying with his face partially in a puddle, about 5 feet from the driver’s side door. He was bleeding and having difficulty breathing.

It was Gonyer, although Case didn’t know that yet.

Weare police Officers Sheila Savaria and Shane Arsenault responded to the scene. Their efforts to find the other two passengers – later identified as Hodgdon and Cook – are partially documented by Savaria’s body cam footage.

Savaria first found Leo, the pit bull, in the brush, lying on his side. Leo later died.

Savaria then finds Hodgdon, lying facedown in the grass.

She then located Cook, who had landed between a sapling and a rock.

All the while, there was confusion about who was involved in the crash.

Case spoke to dispatch about nine minutes after the crash:

“I don’t have a positive ID at this point. But based on previous experience, I think this is Nicholas Bourgeois and Ben Cook.”

Meanwhile, a dispatcher leaves a message for Brace. That same dispatcher then communicates with someone else, who doesn’t seem surprised by Bourgeois and Cook’s possible involvement.

“Yeah, that makes sense,” a male voice responded to Case. “Yep, two criminals.”

Three minutes later, Officer Arsenault called former Weare police Lt. Kim McSweeney, according to his narrative. They have a conversation.

“What, why did New Boston pursue a vehicle into our town?” McSweeney asked.

Arsenault explained: The vehicle took off from Milwaukee Iron Works – No taillights, high rate of speed, suspicious activity. Case pursued, and the chase ended with a rollover.

“F---,” McSweeney said.

“New Boston is extremely familiar with criminals,” Arsenault said.

At 1:32 a.m., Case told dispatch that Bourgeois wasn’t involved in the crash after all; instead, he identified Gonyer. Two minutes later, he reported that Gonyer was being transported to Concord Hospital.

“They believe they can use him for an organ donor,” Case says.

At 2:08 a.m., Gonyer is pronounced dead.

The evening before

The events that led to Gonyer’s death began hours before the crash, according to interviews conducted by New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Christopher Storm.

The three teens in the truck were together only briefly during the evening, when they met up with a group of people about 8:30 p.m. where the Piscataquog River snakes behind the Goffstown district courthouse. It’s a spot where locals frequently go “mudding” – driving their trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles through big puddles for sport.

That group included Bourgeois; Ashley Holt, Hodgdon’s second cousin and Gonyer’s former girlfriend; and Taryn Wyanads, Gonyer’s girlfriend.

According to Holt, the group hung out for a bit before Gonyer and Wyanads left. The rest went to Manchester, a six-pack of Twisted Tea on hand; on the way, they’d stop, and Bourgeois would buy more, she said.

Later, Holt said Bourgeois handed her the keys and asked her to drive the boys to Milwaukee Iron Works.

But an argument erupted on the way home. Holt told police the boys didn’t want to have to bring her back to her car. Cook told her he was fine to drive, that he wouldn’t tell her he was okay unless he was.

Earlier in the night, Holt told police, Cook had told her he was on “beer No. 12.” Hodgdon told her he was unable to drive.

Later, both boys were tested for their blood alcohol content. Cook clocked in at 0.12 percent BAC; Hodgdon, at 0.15 percent. The legal limit for under-21 drivers is 0.02 percent.

The situation escalated once the group reaches Milwaukee Iron Works. Cook told Holt to leave and refused to give her the truck keys or Bourgeois’s phone number. Hodgdon, not liking Cook’s way of speaking to his cousin, argued with him.

At 12:37 a.m. Hodgdon called Gonyer, using Cook’s phone.

Wyanads told police the two had been at her parents’ camp in Vermont the week prior to the evening. They’d left Goffstown to pick up a ladder and some wood at her house, for the Gonyer family’s own trip to Vermont.

Gonyer knew Hodgdon wasn’t able to drive, Wyanads said. The two were close, according to statements made by Gonyer’s father, Jason Gonyer. Aaron, he told police, “was always at their home.”

Cook was not welcome at their house, Jason Gonyer told police.

Shortly after Gonyer arrived, so did Diaz. Holt jumped in his car and they took off. She told police the three boys ran after her before jumping in Bourgeois’s truck. At the time, she told police, Cook was closest to the truck and had the key.

During another interview, Hodgdon told police Cook was driving.

Holt told police they’d passed a police car as they headed west, toward Weare. Later that night, after Holt picked up her car in Goffstown, she saw emergency vehicles responding to the scene of the crash.


The site now where Gonyer was fatally injured looks nothing like it did on July 3, 2015.

The brush where the three boys landed is cleared away, giving a memorial to Gonyer some breathing room.

The patch of land across from Cold Springs RV is maintained by the company, Manager Jennifer Quinlan said. Periodically, workers mow the grass and clean up any trash around it. Not just to keep the property nice, but because of the memorial’s importance to the community, she said.

For more than a year after the crash, most of the records the Monitor requested from various towns, including New Boston, Weare and Bow, as well as from state police, were withheld because of the pending prosecution.

New Boston’s official pursuit policy was given to the Monitor after seven months of denials. Access to the dispatch audio and police video, as well as the accident reconstruction report, was granted nearly two years after the crash by Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office after all prosecution was dropped.

In all of the records the Monitor reviewed in the years since the crash, there is no mention or any indication of anyone examining whether Case violated his department’s pursuit policy.

New Boston Chief Brace and Officer Case, who has been promoted to senior patrolman and is now the department’s prosecutor, declined to comment on the details of the fatal crash for this story.

People still stop by the memorial marked with a monument and engraving of Gonyer. In early winter, Plastic hearts inscribed with messages were intermixed with synthetic flowers around a stone etched with Trevor’s name and image. Offerings of Moxie soda and Bud Light bottles are there, too.

“I miss you babe! & our pointless rides to no where! Always in my (heart) love bug!” reads one.

“Trevor, Been hard but know your looking out for us! Love you bro – Jason,” reads another.