THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Another trooper struck on road

State Police to adopt new safety measures

By Jack Nicas
Globe Correspondent / July 18, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

After a state trooper was hit while sitting in his cruiser early yesterday during a traffic stop in Taunton — the fifth trooper struck in the past five weeks — State Police are poised to announce new safety measures this week.

Trooper Corey Rose, 33, sustained minor injuries when a Volkswagen Jetta slammed into his cruiser from behind at 2:26 a.m.

One measure State Police plan to implement is increasing weekend patrols “in a long-term approach,’’ said spokesman David Procopio.

We are looking at “increasing the number of units we have on the roadways in critical areas at critical hours,’’ Procopio said in a phone interview yesterday.

State Police are also examining practices around the country, looking for methods that might better protect Massachusetts troopers during traffic stops on busy roads, possibly new equipment, he said. He declined to give further details, which he said would be announced this week.

The added focus on safety follows a tragic two-hour period on the state’s roads yesterday, in which three early- morning accidents left three dead and four injured, including the state trooper in Taunton. That incident was the fifth time in the past five weeks drivers have struck and injured troopers monitoring traffic, a rash of crashes that left one trooper dead, one still out of work, and three others recovering from injuries.

“In 18 years of experience, I can’t remember this many guys getting hit in this close of a time period,’’ Sergeant Matthew Murray said. It is not uncommon for troopers to be hit while on the side of the road, Murray and Procopio said, estimating that one is hit per month.

All five incidents occurred between midnight and 2:30 a.m. In one, police have not identified the driver; in the other four, all the drivers facing charges were allegedly drunk.

“Working on the side of the road with cars passing you feet, if not inches away at high speeds is dangerous enough when drivers are sober and obeying all traffic laws,’’ Procopio said. “Add into that a driver who’s impaired, or speeding, or aggressive — it’s a scene that’s ripe for tragedy and we’re troubled by that.’’

Rose was sitting in his cruiser in the breakdown lane of Route 24 northbound in Taunton with its blue lights flashing when a 1996 Volkswagen Jetta slammed into it, Murray said.

The impact pushed the cruiser into a 2006 Chrysler Sebring, which had been stopped for a traffic violation.

Fatima Baptista, 22, of Brockton, who was in the Sebring, suffered minor injuries. She and Rose were taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton. They were later released. Police did not provide any more details on Rose or Baptista.

The driver of the Jetta, Matthew Charette, 24, of Bridgewater, was taken to Morton Hospital and Medical Center in Taunton with minor injuries. He was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and failing to move over for an emergency vehicle, a law enacted last year that carries a $100 fine. Charette is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow in Taunton District Court.

Noting that troopers often conduct sobriety tests between the parked vehicle and cruiser, Murray said, “Had any person been in between any of these vehicles while this third car struck the cruiser, they could have sustained significant if not fatal injuries.’’

Murray said it was unclear why Baptista had been pulled over and whether Rose, who has been on the force for four years, had yet exited his vehicle to speak with her when he was hit.

Route 24 northbound was closed for two hours after the crash. All three vehicles were towed from the scene. Rose’s cruiser suffered heavy front and rear damage.

The incident resembled four crashes that occurred in a three-week span earlier this summer.

At 1:12 a.m. on June 13, Trooper Anthony Carriere made a traffic stop in the southbound breakdown lane of Interstate 95 in Burlington when his cruiser was struck by Katherine J. Rotchford, 60, of West Roxbury, who was allegedly driving drunk, Murray said.

Witnesses said Rotchford appeared to be exiting the highway when she veered back on at the last moment and continued to travel in the breakdown lane. It was unclear if Carriere was in the cruiser when it was hit, Murray said.

Carriere and Rotchford were taken to the Lahey Clinic in Burlington with minor injuries. She was later charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and several other offenses.

On June 18 about 1:30 a.m., Sergeant Douglas Weddleton, 52, was killed when an alleged drunk driver struck the vehicle of another alleged drunk driver whom Weddleton was speaking to on Interstate 95 in Mansfield. The two drivers were charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.

During the July 4 weekend, two troopers were struck by vehicles in less than 24 hours.

At about 2 a.m. on July 4, Trooper Sean M. McGarry was speaking to the driver of a vehicle he had pulled over on Route 128 in Peabody when a second vehicle sideswiped him, injuring his leg. The car that struck McGarry sped away. Police recovered a side view mirror at the scene and determined that the it was a Mitsubishi Gallant, Procopio said yesterday. Police are seeking that car, which they believe is white or gray.

On July 5 about 12:30 a.m., Captain Frank Hughes was injured when he was hit by an alleged drunk driver while directing traffic in Cambridge near the Museum of Science after the July Fourth fireworks.

Jack Nicas can be reached at jnicas@globe.com.

Connect with Boston.com

Twitter Follow us on @BostonUpdate, other Twitter accounts