Mass. trooper killed after SUV struck during traffic stop

Thomas Clardy leaves behind his wife and six children

Duty Death: Thomas Clardy - [Massachusetts]

End of Service: 03/16/2016


By Owen Boss
Boston Herald

HUDSON, Mass. — Grief-stricken police officers from cities and towns across the commonwealth lined the route from Worcester to Boston last night to salute veteran state trooper and father of six Thomas L. Clardy, who lost his life in a horrific accident on the Mass Pike in Charlton that led to criminal charges against the man accused of slamming into his parked cruiser.

Clardy, 44, of Hudson, was conducting a routine traffic stop in the westbound breakdown lane around noon yesterday when a Nissan Maxima driven by 30-year-old David Njuguna of Webster suddenly swerved across all three lanes and crashed into the back of the trooper’s Ford Explorer, state police Col. Richard McKeon said yesterday.

Thomas Clardy. (Massachusetts State Police Image)
Thomas Clardy. (Massachusetts State Police Image)

Witnesses said Njuguna — who was seriously injured and taken by helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester — was “traveling at a high rate of speed” prior to the crash, McKeon said. Njuguna will be summonsed to court on a charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and state police officials are seeking an immediate threat suspension of his license, the colonel said.

According to Njuguna’s driving record, obtained by the Herald last night, he lost his driver’s license for 180 days in October 2013 after refusing to submit to a breath test during a traffic stop. Njuguna’s driver’s license was reinstated in June 2014 after he paid the fee associated with refusing a breath test, his driving record shows.

In a statement, Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “deeply saddened” to hear Clardy had “tragically lost his life in the line of duty” and said his “thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones, fellow troopers and the entire law enforcement community during this very difficult time.”

As Clardy’s body was taken by police escort from UMass Memorial to the office of the state’s Chief Medical Examiner in Boston, officers lining bridges over the Mass Pike gave him a final salute.

When the somber procession reached Albany Street, which was illuminated by the flashing blue lights of the dozens of police vehicles lining the roadway, two columns of state troopers escorted the medical examiner’s ambulance carrying Clardy’s body as it made its final turn.

The investigation into the cause of the crash, which McKeon said could lead to additional charges for Njuguna, is being conducted by state police and Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early’s Office.

Funeral arrangements were not announced last night.

Clardy leaves behind his wife, Reisa, and their six children, ages 4 to 17; he served in the Marine Corps before joining the state police in April 2005. He was assigned to the Charlton barracks in November 2012.

The news came as a shock to the Hudson residents who knew the trooper, including Dale Dennis, who said he met Clardy 15 years ago when they worked together at AutoZone.

“This is definitely going to take a toll on the town,” Dennis told the Herald last night.

“You hear about it all the time on the news, a firefighter, or police officer, or first responder is killed,” he said. “It’s much different when he’s from your town and he’s so well-known. Anyone you go around and ask, they’re all going to say the same thing, ‘He was just an all-around great guy.’”

In a message posted to her Facebook page in December 2010, Reisa Clardy asked her followers to keep an eye out for police officers conducting roadside traffic stops.

“For all u drivers out there — if u see a trooper standing next to a pulled over vehicle — move over!!” Reisa wrote. “We want these men/women to come home safely to their families.”

Copyright 2016 the Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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