Rose Lincoln for The Boston Globe
ATTLEBORO – The Hyde Park man who was allegedly driving drunk when his pickup truck smashed into a car that, in turn, slammed into a state trooper, told police he was driving 65 miles an hour as he entered an exit ramp in Mansfield early today, a prosecutor said in court.
Anthony Perry, 45, pleaded not guilty in Attleboro District Court today to charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide, operating under the influence, negligent operation, speeding, and a violation of the move-over law. Bail was set at $10,000 cash.
Perry, according to Bristol County prosecutors and State Police, set off the chain-reaction crash that killed Sergeant Doug Weddleton, 52, who was working a road construction detail on Interstate 95 northbound near the exit to Interstate 495.
The driver of the other vehicle, Kenneth Weiand, 43, of Walpole, was ordered held pending a mental-health evaluation after Judge Daniel O'Shea was told Weiand was making suicidal statements and punching and slamming his head into walls while waiting to be arraigned.
Not-guilty pleas were entered on Weiand's behalf to charges of operating under the influence of alcohol. Prosecutors said a chemical breath test administered after the crash showed Weiand had a blood alcohol level of .20, well above the state limit of .08.
Earlier today outside the State Police barracks in Foxborough, Colonel Marian McGovern, the State Police commander, described Weddleton, 52, as a dedicated trooper, a devoted husband, and the proud father of four children.
"He was a dedicated police officer and even more so a devoted and loving husband and a doting father to his four boys, of whom he was extremely proud," McGovern said.
McGovern said that Weddleton had placed his cruiser, with its blue lights flashing, to block a ramp from Interstate 95 to Interstate 495 when Weiand's car tried to get around him onto the ramp.
Weddleton, wearing a yellow safety vest, had exited his cruiser to stop the car when Perry's pickup truck slammed Weiand's car from behind, pushing the vehicle forward into the officer and fatally injuring him.
A fellow trooper at the construction site ran to Weddleton's aid. Weddleton was then transported to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, where he was pronounced dead.
McGovern said that Weddleton, in blocking the ramp, had prevented construction workers from suffering potentially serious injuries.
In court today, Bristol Assistant District Attorney Derek J. Coyne told the judge Perry told police after the crash that he did not see anyone ahead of him as he drove his F-150 pickup onto the closed exit ramp.
He also told police he was driving 65 m.p.h and that he had been drinking at a Rhode Island bar before the crash. Perry allegedly told police he had three beers and one mixed drink.
But Perry's defense attorney Robert J. Galibois, said Perry's breath chemical test registered .07 – below the level necessary to file drunk driving charges.
"This is a misdemeanor case. The only thing that elevates this to a felony is an OUI [operating under the influence],'' said Galibois, who said Perry was a union carpenter without any prior criminal convictions. "And the OUI will not survive.''
Prosecutors said the OUI charge against Perry was based on his actions at the scene when he failed field sobriety tests. His eyes were glassy and red and he had trouble maintaining his balance, they said.
Perry had been involved in six accidents and was issued more than a dozen tickets, including three speeding tickets. The records also showed he had completed a driver safety course in 1997. Weiand had also been involved in six accidents and received more than a dozen citations, including 11 for speeding.
Both men's licenses were revoked today indefinitely after the Registry found they were an "immediate threat" to public safety. Weiand's license had already been suspended for 180 days because he refused a Breathalyzer test, said Registry spokeswoman Ann Dufresne.
Weddleton was a 28-year veteran of the department who had served for many years in the ballistics unit.
"He was known as a worker. He was known as a trooper's trooper. … This is a huge loss to our department," said McGovern.
Weddleton left behind his wife, Judith, and his sons, Steven, 26, Mark, 23, Ross, 18, and Matt, 14. He had just attended Matt's eighth-grade graduation before reporting for his detail Thursday night.
A constant flow of friends and family bearing food and flowers came and went today from Weddleton's house, which is perched on a hill in Brockton, while a state trooper manned a cruiser out front.
Melanie Martin, 39, who lives next door, said her family moved to their home in 2002 and were immediately befriended by the Weddletons.
"We became really good friends. Literally, we just watched each other's families grow up," she said.
She said Weddleton could often be seen mowing his lawn and playing with his kids. He advised her once about her kids, "Enjoy them while they're little, because they grow so fast."
"I can't say enough wonderful things about him. The man didn't have an evil bone in his body. He was always in a happy mood. I'm sure that he saw a lot of tragedies at work but he never let it affect him. He will just be deeply missed. I feel so bad for the kids," she said.
Weddleton had been assigned to the Foxborough barracks since October 2008. Before that, he had served in the ballistics lab for15 years and before that he had various assignments at the Middleborough Troop D Headquarters, the Middleborough barracks speeding enforcement team, and the Norwell barracks, State Police said today.
In 1985, he received a commendation for apprehending a suspect in Milton who was wanted by the Canton police for the rape and kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl. In 1992, he was commended for figuring out the escape route and capturing two of three suspects fleeing after a New Bedford bank robbery.
The investigation of the crash is continuing. "The outcome of the investigation could result in additional charges which will be determined by the facts and the law once we have analyzed all the evidence," McGovern said.
Parts of Interstates 95, 295, and 495 were closed after the crash but have now reopened.
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