Dover man faces negligent homicide charge for hit-and-run bicycle crash that killed retired police officer

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Police say a piece of bicycle seat was stuck in the front end of this Yukon, driven by Craig Sprowl, now charged with negligent homicide in the death of Donna Briggs.

KINGSTON, NH – Craig W. Sprowl had nodded off more than once while driving along Route 125 before he rear-ended a bicyclist on Route 125 last Tuesday, killing a retired Hudson police sergeant, according to court documents.

Sprowl was arraigned Friday in Rockingham County Superior Court on felony charges of negligent homicide and conduct after an accident.     He is accused of driving on Route 125 in Kingston on the morning of Sept. 21, 2021, and striking from behind bicyclist Donna Briggs, 59, of Derry, and then leaving the scene of the accident.  Briggs retired from the Hudson Police Department after a 20-year career and becoming the department’s first woman sergeant.

Briggs was training for a unity ride to honor fallen police officers when she was struck and killed.  When she didn’t return home, Kingston police began searching for her and found her body down an embankment off the south side of Route 125 near New Boston Road around 8:30 p.m.

In the investigation, police went to area businesses to view footage from surveillance cameras and found one that showed a dark-colored vehicle striking her.  The video recorded the collision at 11:37 a.m. that day.

Retired Hudson Police Sgt. Donna Briggs. Photo/Hudson PD

Dr. Jennie Duval, Chief Medical Examiner, ruled the cause of Brigg’s death to be blunt force trauma as a result of the crash.

Trooper Christopher Martineau, in his affidavit supporting Sprowl’s arrest, said state police spoke with two witnesses. One said she was driving north on Route 125 about 11:30 a.m. when she saw a “crayon-colored blue” Chevy SUV heading south.  The driver, she said, threw a bicycle out the passenger side of his vehicle and down an embankment on Route 125.

 Another witness said he was driving south on Route 125 when he passed a cyclist in the righthand breakdown lane, south of the intersection of New Boston Road.  After passing the cyclist, he saw a dark-colored SUV behind him drive into the right breakdown lane and strike the cyclist.  He took out his phone to try and get a picture of the vehicle, but couldn’t because the SUV pulled up close behind him and he was afraid what the driver might do.  He continued driving south and saw the SUV make a U-turn and head north on Route 125.  The witness continued driving and after a short period of time he saw a police officer pulled over on the side of the road.  He stopped and reported what he had seen.

At the accident scene, New Hampshire State Police C.A.R. Unit investigators found a clear rectangular lens in the south travel lane of Route 125.  A number found on the lens corresponded to a passenger-side light lens for a 2000-2006 GMC Yukon.

From the videos, investigators determined the SUV had a New Hampshire temporary registration or a dealer plate on the rear of it.

Investigators researched a list of Yukons inspected in New Hampshire, narrowing the search to unregistered vehicles in Rockingham County.  Vehicles in New Hampshire cannot be inspected without a valid registration unless they are owned by a dealership, police said.  The search then was narrowed down to the color of the SUV resulting in one vehicle: a 2005 blue GMC Yukon owned by Top Line Motorsports in Derry.

Topline, investigators learned, sold the vehicle a month earlier to Sprowl, who worked there.

State Police also learned that on Sept. 15, Sprowl crashed a 2013 Silver Chevy Silverado pickup truck into a tree in Derry.  The truck belonged to Top Line.

Sprowl had been living at the Day’s Inn, 481 Central Ave., in Dover for about a year.  Investigators reviewed video from the Day’s Inn that showed the blue GMC Yukon leaving about 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 21. They also viewed video from Rusty Lantern Market in Lee which recorded Sprowl stopping there at 10:33 a.m. the same day.   

Troopers spoke to Sprowl on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, outside Cumberland Farms on Gosling Road. He was with his estranged wife, Angela Sprowl, 39, in her minivan.

Initially, he denied driving the SUV on Tuesday but ultimately said he had. He said that morning he stopped at the Rusty Lantern Market because he was nodding off.  He said as he drove south on Route 125 he continued to nod off, drifting off the side of the road and striking the rumble strips multiple times.

At one point he nodded off and came to, either by the sound of the rumble strips or a bang and when he came to, he had drifted off the right shoulder of the road.  He said the SUV was vibrating up and down as he left the road and he noticed front-end damage to the right passenger side of the SUV.  

Sprowl told investigators he was unsure what he had struck, but knew he had hit something.  He made a U-turn on Route 125 and drove north in an attempt to identify what he had struck.  He said he didn’t see anything and proceeded to turn right on New Boston Road.

He said at one point, he got out of the Yukon and inspected the front-end damage.  He could not provide an explanation for why he hadn’t reported the accident, according to Martineau’s affidavit.

Sprowl said he later saw on the news that a woman had been struck and killed in the area where he had been and asked the trooper if he had killed her.  Sprowl, Martineau wrote, was remorseful.

Troopers remained in contact with Sprowl by phone and text message.  He told them he was in various locations in Massachusetts yet the investigators said they knew he was in New Hampshire.

Ultimately, police located him and his wife at a hotel in Portsmouth and arrested him.  Angela Sprowl was charged with hindering apprehension and stalking.  She is to be arraigned on Sept. 27.

State police obtained a search warrant for the SUV at Top Line.  The front was damaged and had a piece of a bicycle seat stuck in the front end.

Rockingham County Attorney Pat Conway asked the judge to hold Sprowl in preventative detention, citing his lengthy criminal history dating back to 1995, which includes several probation violations.  At the time of the incident, he was out on bail on another charge.

She also said Sprowl examined the damage to the SUV.  A piece of bicycle seat was stuck in the front of the SUV so, she said, “he had to know he struck someone.”

Public Defender Deanna Campbell said Sprowl who listened in to the hearing by telephone from a local hospital, was taken from the Rockingham County jail to a hospital because the jail could not provide the medical care he needed.  She said Sprowl is a diabetic who has significant damage to his legs and feet.  He also has some mental health issues and has a seizure disorder.  Campbell said it is unknown how long he will be hospitalized.

She said he successfully completed drug court and the incident did not involve the misuse of alcohol or drugs, though she said that was of “little consolation to the victim’s family.”

Campbell said unfortunately he was “probably burning the candle at both ends.”