‘Face of Wilton’ Elmer Santerre dies in crash

Select Board member Kermit Williams and Elmer Santerre shake hands after Williams read a official commendation and declaration from the State of New Hampshire during a ceremony last year honoring Santerre's retirement from Elmer’s Barbershop.

Select Board member Kermit Williams and Elmer Santerre shake hands after Williams read a official commendation and declaration from the State of New Hampshire during a ceremony last year honoring Santerre's retirement from Elmer’s Barbershop. —FILE PHOTO

By BILL FONDA

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 11-20-2023 11:22 AM

Modified: 11-20-2023 3:53 PM


Longtime Wilton barber Elmer Santerre died in a single-car crash on Main Street in Wilton Friday evening.

Santerre, 89, had owned Elmer’s Barbershop on Main Street for 64 years before retiring last December. During a celebration outside the barbershop to honor Santerre on his last day, Wilton Select Board member Kermit Williams read a commendation signed by Gov. Chris Sununu and a declaration signed by state House Speaker Sherman Packard to recognize Santerre for his dedication to the community and his Navy service during the Korean War.

Deputy Town Administrator Janice Pack said Santerre was “the face of Wilton for so many years,” and that just last week, he came to her office to let her know that he had wood available if she needed it to heat her home.

“He said, ‘You know where it is. I’ve got it all together for you,’” she said. “He never wanted me to get cold. He was a sweetheart.”

A statement from the Wilton Police Department reports that first-responders were notified at approximately 8:35 p.m. about a single-car crash on Main Street at the traffic dummy and that the vehicle had rolled over, trapping the operator. The Wilton Fire Department removed Santerre from the car, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Responders at the scene included the Wilton police and fire departments, Wilton/Lyndeborough EMS, Lyndeborough Police, Mont Vernon Police and New Hampshire DOT.

According to Wilton Police, a medical event caused the crash, and there were no signs of drugs or alcohol. The accident is still under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Brendhan Harris at 603-654-9452.

One killed in Rindge crash

An occupant of one of the vehicles involved in a crash Friday evening in Rindge died.

According to a statement from Police Chief Rachel Malynowski, at approximately 7:31 p.m., the Rindge police and fire departments were dispatched to the intersection of Route 119 and Payson Hill Road for a report of an accident involving multiple vehicles. Initial reports indicated that one vehicle had rolled over and at least one occupant was trapped.

On arrival, first-responders found a blue 2020 Subaru Legacy in the middle of Route 119, facing southeast. The vehicle had sustained heavy front-end and rear driver’s-side damage. The occupant was out of the vehicle and was transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., by the Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance to be evaluated for apparent head and facial injuries.

A gray 2021 GMC Sierra was located on its passenger side on the south side of Route 119 resting  against a utility pole. The vehicle had sustained heavy front passenger and rear passenger side damage, and two occupants were trapped inside. Fire and rescue officers from Rindge and Jaffrey extricated both occupants using two Jaws of Life tools, but no MedFlight service was available due to weather.

One occupant was transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center by the Peterborough Ambulance in critical condition, and as of Monday, the full extent of injuries was unknown. The second occupant was pronounced deceased at the scene. The names of all involved parties were being withheld pending next-of-kin notifications.

According to police, an investigation determined that the Subaru was traveling southbound on Cathedral Road in Rindge, and the driver failed to stop at the posted stop sign at the intersection of Cathedral Road and Route 119, resulting in a collision with the westbound GMC. Gauthier’s Auto Services of Jaffrey towed the vehicles to Cliff’s Auto Body & Repair in Jaffrey.

Rindge Police, Rindge Fire and Rindge Rescue were assisted on scene by Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance, Peterborough Ambulance, Jaffrey Fire, Jaffrey Rescue, Winchendon Fire, Ashby Fire and New Hampshire DOT. Route 119 was closed to through traffic for approximately four hours.

The Rindge Police Department is investigating the accident. Witnesses with any additional information are asked to contact Officer Nick Lavoie at 603-899-5009, Ext. 31, or Malynowski at Ext. 15.