MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — With a massive American flag waving in the wind and dozens of law enforcement officers lining the street, a convoy delivered the casket of a fallen New Hampshire State Police trooper to an event celebrating his life.
Staff Sgt. Jesse Sherrill was killed last week when a tractor trailer collided with his cruiser on Interstate 95 at the site of an overnight paving project. The driver of the tractor trailer was treated at a hospital and released. The 44-year-old Sherill, a 20-year veteran of the force, was pronounced dead at the hospital. The crash is being investigated by Maine State Police.
A small crowd awaited the arrival of a convoy, including Mary Welch, a 63-year-old legal assistant who hails from Sherill’s hometown of Barrington. She knew Sherill’s family well and called him a “a great boy, a great guy, never had any enemies I knew of.”
“It’s broken our hearts. That is for sure,” Welch said. “It’s touched me to see all the respect all over the state.”
Sherill was the 10th state trooper killed in the line of duty and the first since Trooper Leslie Lord and Trooper Scott Phillips were killed in 1997.
At the start of the ceremony, Sherill’s flag-draped casket was wheeled past hundreds of uniformed law enforcement officers from across New England. The flag was later handed to Sherill’s wife Nicolle and their two children, Peyton and Quinn.
Below the stage, a state police cruiser bearing Sherill’s license plate was parked. Troopers also walked up to the stage with a hat and boots as a tribute to fallen officers and a reminder of those who died in the line of duty.
“You only need to take a look around to see what Jesse meant to so many,” Col. Nathan Noyes, who leads the State Police, told the audience gathered at the SNHU Arena in Manchester. “Jesse’s love for his community, for his fellow troopers and, most importantly his family, is on display today for the world to see.”
Noyes went on to describe Sherrill, a father of two, as a caring, genuine and humble trooper who grew up playing baseball and football in Barrington, and later spent his time coaching baseball.
“He simply lived life to the fullest and took advantage of every opportunity presented to him,” Noyes said.
One longtime friend talked of growing up playing sports with Sherill. Another recounted some of their misadventures, including getting stranded when a snowmobile broke down in sub-zero weather.
“There are no words to describe what a void that Jesse leaves behind,” Daniel Mariotti, a friend of 30 years, told the crowd. “He was a proud trooper, an amazing dad and husband, a loving son and brother, a great coach and an even a better friend. He was without a doubt the best mean we have ever known.”
The ceremony came to a close with the New Hampshire Police Association Pipes and Drums playing “Amazing Grace,” with the sounds of a lone bagpiper trailing off through a tunnel.
Story by Michael Casey.