CHARLTON, MA – A Massachusetts State Police trooper was killed during a routine traffic stop around noon Wednesday when a car swerved off the Massachusetts Turnpike and smashed into his cruiser in the breakdown lane.
Thomas L. Clardy, 44, a US Marine Corps veteran and a married father of six children, had returned to his parked cruiser after pulling over a driver for a traffic violation when it was struck by a Nissan Maxima that had swerved across all three travel lanes, authorities said.
The wayward car smashed into the back of Clardy’s Ford Explorer without slowing, delivering a “tremendous impact,” Colonel Richard McKeon, superintendent of the State Police, said at a somber news conference.
Clardy, who joined the State Police in 2005, was extremely well-liked by his colleagues and had earned a reputation as a “hard worker, a good trooper, and a great man,”
“All who knew him have, today, borne witness to his outstanding character,” he said.
Clardy leaves his wife, Reisa, and four girls and two boys, ages 4 to 17. “We pray for them,” he said. “We will forever hold them tight to our hearts, for the rest of their lives.”
The driver of the Nissan, identified as David Njuguna of Webster, was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stay within marked lanes, McKeon said. Authorities are also seeking the immediate suspension of his driver’s license and could file additional criminal charges against him.
Njuguna suffered serious injuries in the crash.
Njuguna’s license was suspended for 180 days in October 2013 when he refused to take a breathalyzer after being stopped by police in Oxford, according to Registry of Motor Vehicles records. His license was reinstated in June 2014 after he paid a reinstatement fee, and it was valid at the time of Wednesday’s crash, according to the records.
The only other incident on his Massachusetts driving record came in October 2012, when he was involved in an accident in Webster that led to a surcharge on his insurance.
In a telephone interview, a relative of Njuguna’s said the family was distraught over what happened.
“On behalf of the family, we are devastated because of the loss of this trooper,” said the relative, who asked not to be identified for fear of a negative backlash. “We are saddened by the loss and I can’t even imagine him with six children being left behind and a wife. They are in our prayers. It’s a very, very sad situation.”
A native of Kenya, Njuguna came to the United States around 2009 and works as a medical technician, the relative said.