State Police to review policies after delay in disclosing trooper was in double fatal accident
FRAMINGHAM - A Massachusetts State Police trooper, charged with drunken driving in a Plymouth crash that killed a mother and daughter Sept. 22, was suspended without pay indefinitely today.
John J. Basler, 25, of Kingston will also be investigated by the department’s internal affairs section, State Police said after a closed-door duty status hearing was held for Basler at State Police headquarters.
Basler, who has been hospitalized since the crash, did not attend the hearing. His attorney declined comment afterwards.
According to Plymouth police, Basler was driving drunk when his vehicle collided head-on with a vehicle carrying Susan Macchi, 64, and her daughter, Juliet, 23, both of Carver.
A funeral Mass will be said Thursday for Susan Macchi at the Church of St. Clare in Braintree, according to the Russell Peck Funeral Home, which is handling services. A separate service will be held for Juliet at a later date, according to the funeral home.
Basler has not yet been arraigned, but Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri said Basler is currently charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor.
State Police said in the statement that their crash reconstruction team was still analyzing the incident and, when the team’s report was complete, it would be submitted to Plymouth police and Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office, “who will determine if additional criminal charges are warranted.”
Also today, State Police said they were reviewing their procedures for disclosing when troopers are involved in major car crashes and other incidents after it took several days for them to acknowledge that Basler had been involved in the crash.
The department has a history of disclosing when members are accused of crimes and may now extend that policy to announcing the involvement of troopers even before they face criminal charges, said State Police spokesman David Procopio.
State Police didn’t disclose his involvement until Plymouth police announced on Saturday they were charging him. Procopio said the command staff on the State Police knew within a few hours after the crash that a trooper was involved.
Procopio said State Police recognized the public might have questions about the delay.
“We are cognizant that there is a public question to whether we should have done that,” he said. “That question is not lost on us. Perhaps we should have been more proactive in announcing that. Perhaps the public perception is correct — we should have been more prompt in putting that information out.”
Asked why the public was not notified sooner that a trooper was involved in the accident, Botieri, the Plymouth chief, said “it appeared to be an accident” initially.
“I don’t see why [Basler’s job] would be released” sooner, in light of the circumstances, including the fact that Balser was off duty at the time of the crash, Botieri said.
Asked if Basler appeared to be intoxicated at the scene, the chief said, “we didn’t have any reason to believe he was at the time of the accident.”
He declined to discuss details about why Basler was ultimately charged with drunken driving, but said more information will be available in court records.
An employee in Plymouth District Court clerk’s office said this afternoon that records in Basler’s case were not yet publicly available, since the office was still processing them.
An arraignment date has not been set, the employee said.
Botieri said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.
Basler was off duty at the time of the crash. Procopio said troopers are not required by the department to carry a firearm when off-duty but are legally permitted to do so. He said Basler’s firearm, badge, and marked police cruiser were seized by commanders after criminal charges were brought against him.
According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Basler’s driver’s license was suspended because of his involvement in a fatal car crash.
Basler joined the department in 2012 and was assigned to the Troop H-7 barracks in Milton.John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.