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Police fault Conn. man in crash that killed trooper

Connecticut police gathered outside a Windsor, Conn., funeral home yesterday, after the arrival of Kenneth Hall’s body. Connecticut police gathered outside a Windsor, Conn., funeral home yesterday, after the arrival of Kenneth Hall’s body. (Jessica Hill/Journal Inquirer via Associated Press)
Associated Press / September 4, 2010

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ENFIELD, Conn. — A 32-year-old Enfield man was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that struck a Connecticut police cruiser, killing a state trooper, police said yesterday.

Michael Pajak was speeding Thursday afternoon when the truck he was driving veered into a State Police cruiser parked in the northbound shoulder on Interstate 91 during a traffic stop, police said. Trooper Kenneth Hall was pronounced dead at a Springfield, Mass., hospital.

Pajak and his passenger, Jenny Benvenuto, 33, of Windsor, also were taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Benvenuto was in critical condition yesterday, but there was no information on Pajak.

Pajak had not been charged yesterday in connection with Hall’s death. Police said their investigation was continuing.

Pajak has a criminal record that includes a citation for distracted driving in May, according to the Judicial Branch website. He was convicted of driving with a suspended license in 2000 and served time in prison on drug charges, according to the records, which were first reported by the Hartford Courant.

Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said seven of that state’s police cruisers escorted Hall’s body yesterday afternoon from the Holyoke office of the state medical examiner to the state line on I-91. Connecticut troopers continued the escort to a Windsor funeral home. In both states highway access was briefly closed to allow the procession to pass.

Governor M. Jodi Rell ordered US and state flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Hall, who was 57.

Connecticut State Police said Hall’s death was the 12th fatal motor vehicle accident involving a trooper or auxiliary trooper.

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