Crash victim devoted to God

MILFORD – Sheryl Ann Gardner was “totally in love with the Lord,” her daughter remembers.

On Sunday afternoon Gardner, a mother of three, was killed in a car accident on Route 101 in Amherst. She was 47 years old.

“She was a very devoted, born-again Christian . . . saved when she was in her early 20s,” said daughter Naomi Demmons of Wilton.

“That was the most important thing she would want people to know.”

Gardner was heading home from driving her son to work in Hooksett when the accident occurred around 1:45 p.m. Her son, Seth, 18, is a senior at Milford High School.

Gardner was traveling westbound on Route 101 when her vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane and hit a vehicle containing a Milford couple, Dennis and Marion Sewall, who were not injured, according to police.

The accident happened near the Souhegan Valley Transfer Station, on a relatively straight section of Route 101.

Amherst police are investigating the accident, but say neither speed nor alcohol appear to have been factors.

Family members were still in shock Monday over the accident.

“She was a good sister, a good person you could talk to,” said Gardner’s eldest sister, Debra Brochu, from her home in Warren, a small town northwest of Concord near the Connecticut River. “She wouldn’t preach to you, but she could give you guidance. She was a good person, a very good person.”

The daughter of a Navy sailor who settled in Warren, Gardner moved to the Milford-Wilton area about eight years ago, said Demmons, Gardner’s middle child. She established her own cleaning business, and became a member of the Open Arms Family Church in Merrimack.

Gardner was divorced but was still friendly with her ex-husband, Richard, in Manchester, her daughter said.

“She had lots of good friends around there,” Brochu said.

The area of Route 101 where the crash happened has been the scene of several deadly accidents in recent years, either farther north in Bedford, where traffic is heavier, or farther south in Amherst, where several bypasses connect with the highway.

Slightly farther south, the Route 101 bypass around Milford has seen so many accidents and fatalities over the years that town officials complained to the state, which owns the road. The state now recommends daylight use of headlights and has installed a “rumble strip” down the median of the bypass to alert people when they are drifting into the opposite lane.

No rumble strip exists where Sunday’s accident occurred.

Gardner’s other family members include an eldest daughter, Erin Marcello of Manchester; five grandchildren; her father, Ronald Buttrick Sr. of Warren; a brother, Ronald Buttrick Jr. of Plymouth; and two sisters, Patricia Buttrick of Bristol, Vt., and Virginia Foley of Norwell, Mass.

Funeral services had not yet been scheduled as of Monday.