Woman who hit cruiser charged with drunken driving
Trooper OK; was working detail on I-93 in Randolph
QUINCY — A 46-year-old East Bridgewater woman accused of slamming into a police cruiser and seriously injuring a state trooper on Interstate 93 in Randolph pleaded not guilty to drunken driving charges yesterday and was released on $6,500 cash bail.
Leslie K. Minasian walked out of Quincy District Court yesterday afternoon and declined to comment as she rushed past reporters waiting outside.
The incident was the latest in a spate of roadside crashes that have left Massachusetts State Police troopers injured and one dead. Since last summer, approximately a dozen troopers have suffered “significant injuries’’ while making motor vehicle stops, responding to prior crashes, or working details, according to State Police spokesman David Procopio. Sergeant Doug Weddleton was killed last June when he was struck by a car on Interstate 95 in Mansfield.
Yesterday marked the second time Minasian has been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, her license was suspended in 1988 after she refused a breath test. Her driving record also shows that she was cited several times for speeding and other traffic violations.
As a condition of her release, Minasian was ordered to abstain from alcohol and not drive while her case is pending.
The crash occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. yesterday morning, near Exit 5 in Randolph. Police said that the far left lane was closed and that the lane closure was marked by signs and arrow boards.
Trooper Michael Isom, 41, was working a construction detail at the site when his cruiser, with its emergency lights on, was rear-ended by a Land Rover Discovery sport utility vehicle driven by Minasian, police said.
The cruiser was spun around by the force of the impact, police said. Isom was taken to Boston Medical Center and released shortly after 5 p.m. yesterday. He will probably be on injured leave for a few days, according to State Police.
Minasian was found leaning on a guardrail at the scene of the crash.
She told police she was on her way home from City Bar in Boston, where she had one glass of wine, and The Capital Grille in Boston, where she had an expresso martini, according to the arrest report.
Minasian was treated at Norwood Hospital for a minor cervical strain.
She was charged with operating under the influence of liquor, second offense; operating under the influence of liquor causing serious injury; negligent operation of a motor vehicle; failing to change lanes for an emergency vehicle; and a marked lanes violation.
She was held overnight at the State Police barracks in Milton, because she was unable to post bail, according to State Police.
She is due back in court June 8 for a pretrial hearing.
Minasian’s lawyer, Timothy Flaherty, called the early-morning crash an accident and described Minasian as a “kind and good person.’’ Flaherty said the layout of the construction zone was confusing. He also said another vehicle was involved and might have caused Minasian to swerve.
According to the arrest report, Minasian was born in Cambridge and lives in East Bridgewater. Her occupation is listed as a software manager for Active Endpoints Inc. of Waltham.
Minasian’s relatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A man who answered the phone at a number for relatives listed in Watertown hung up on a Globe reporter.
Yesterday’s crash brought attention to the number of roadside injuries state troopers have suffered in recent months.
A study on how to increase roadside safety was initiated last year by State Police Colonel Marian J. McGovern after several troopers were hit by cars and is still under way.
“The study has reviewed everything from procedures to approach stopped vehicles on foot to cruiser lighting systems to cruiser markings to uniform markings,’’ Procopio said in an e-mail.
Procopio emphasized that cruiser lighting, approach procedures, or uniform markings are not to blame, but that it is drivers who are drinking, on drugs, and driving recklessly that are putting troopers in harm’s way.
“The primary cause of troopers being hurt in the performance of their duty on Massachusetts highways is impaired and reckless drivers,’’ said Procopio.
“The department views such drivers not only as a threat to trooper safety, but a threat to the safety of the public, and it is a priority to locate them and take them off the road before they kill or hurt somebody.’’