Commander of New Hampshire Air National Guard killed in hit-and-run crash

ROCHESTER, N.H. — The commander of the New Hampshire Air National Guard was struck and killed in a hit-and-run crash on Monday, police said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. John Pogorek, 57, of Strafford, died when an SUV driven by an 81-year-old Rochester man struck Pogorek, who was stopped on the side of the roadway and outside his vehicle resecuring a load on his trailer, Rochester Police Chief Gary Boudreau said in a statement.

No arrests have been made.

A decorated military leader, pilot and combat veteran, Pogorek served the country in a myriad of roles for more than three decades. He was awarded numerous medals and awards during his career, including the Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, NATO Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal from the government of Kuwait.

In his role as commander, Pogorek was responsible for the command, control and plan operations for more than 1,300 officers and airmen at Pease Air National Guard Base.

Gov. Chris Sununu offered condolences to Pogorek’s family in a social media post as news broke of the military general’s sudden death.

“On behalf of the entire State of New Hampshire, I extend my sincere condolences to the family of Gen. Pogorek,” Sununu said. “Gen. Pogorek served his state, country, and community with honor. His commitment and contributions to the Granite State will never be forgotten.”

At 5:22 p.m. Monday, emergency crews responded to the area of 10 Crown Point Road for a report of a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian, Boudreau said.

A preliminary investigation found that a red Toyota RAV4 traveling west on Crown Point Road struck Pogorek, who was outside his vehicle and resecuring a load on his 2014 Toyota Tundra, which was on the side of the roadway.

The red 2012 Toyota RAV4 “continued without stopping,” Boudreau said. Pogorek was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police later located the RAV4, and identified the driver as Paul Clement, 81, of Rochester. It was unclear Tuesday whether Clement would face any charges in the fatal crash.

A juvenile passenger who was inside Pogorek’s Toyota Tundra during the crash was not injured, police said.

Pogorek received a bachelor’s degree in Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and was commissioned in May 1989, according to biographical information on the New Hampshire National Guard’s website.

He joined the New Hampshire Air National Guard in January 1999 and transitioned to the KC-135R, and then to the KC-46A Pegasus.

During his career, he served as a KC-135R instructor and evaluator pilot, Squadron Director of Operations, 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron Commander, 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron Commander, the 157th Maintenance Group Commander, and the 157th Operations Group Commander.

Prior to his current position, Pogorek was the commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease Air National Guard Base.

The Strafford County Regional Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team responded and assisted with the investigation.

A portion of Crown Point Road from the intersection of Meadorboro Road and Estes Road to the intersection of Strafford Road was closed for several hours as crews were on scene.

An investigation into the fatal crash is ongoing, the police chief said.

Anyone who may have information that may assist investigators is asked to contact Detective Matthew Flathers at 603-330-7128 or matthew.flathers@rochesternh.gov.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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