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Two charged after trooper struck, killed on I-95 detail

Men accused of driving drunk; officer mourned

By Maria Cramer and Brian Ballou
Globe Staff / June 19, 2010

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BROCKTON — A veteran state trooper was killed while on a highway traffic detail in Mansfield early yesterday morning in a bizarre accident in which one alleged drunk driver plowed into another, trapping the trooper under a car as his body was dragged across the highway.

Sergeant Douglas Weddleton, a 52-year-old father of four, had parked his cruiser at the entrance to a highway exit ramp on the northbound side of Interstate 95 with his blue lights flashing to prevent traffic from entering about 1:30 a.m. when an alleged drunk driver in an Acura tried to maneuver past him, police said.

Weddleton stopped the Acura and began talking to the driver, Kenneth Weiand, a 43-year-old state probation worker. At that moment, police said, a Ford truck driven by Anthony Perry, a 45-year-old carpenter from Hyde Park who had been watching the NBA Finals at a Rhode Island bar, slammed into the Acura, police said. Perry later told police he was traveling at 65 miles per hour, according to court documents.

The force of the impact caused the Acura, with Weiand inside, to veer left, striking Weddleton and trapping the trooper underneath the car. He was dragged across three lanes of the highway, as the nearby construction workers desperately banged on the Acura’s windows, trying to get the car to stop, according to a State Police report.

Perry was arraigned yesterday on charges including negligent motor vehicle homicide and operating under the influence, and Weiand was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol. Both men pleaded not guilty yesterday in Attleboro District Court.

Yesterday, mourners brought flowers and food to the trooper’s family at their Brockton home, where a trooper stood sentry outside to keep media away.

“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,’’ said Colonel Marian McGovern, the State Police superintendent, who notified Weddleton’s family. “To see four young boys who idolized their father and to tell them their father was no longer with them will remain forever in my heart.’’

Weddleton had worked 15 years in the department’s ballistics unit, but left in 2008 to patrol highways out of the Foxborough barracks so he could spend more time with his wife and children.

Shortly before working at the roadside detail, he had attended a graduation ceremony for his youngest son. From there, he rushed straight to the road construction site in Mansfield.

Melanie Martin, a family friend and neighbor, said that Weddleton liked to work in his yard and drive his sons to baseball practice. Weddleton leaves his wife, Judith, and his sons, Steven, 26; Mark, 23; Ross, 18; and Matt, 14.

“I can’t say enough wonderful things about him,’’ Martin said of Weddleton. “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.’’

Perry, who was wearing a Paul Pierce Celtics jersey when he was arrested, told police he had been drinking at a Rhode Island bar before the crash. He said he drank three beers and a cocktail, prosecutors said in court yesterday.

The chemical breath test showed he had a blood alcohol level of .07, just below the state limit of .08, said his lawyer, Robert J. Galibois.

“This is a misdemeanor case,’’ said Galibois, who said Perry had no criminal record. “The only thing that elevates this to a felony is an OUI [operating under the influence]. And the OUI will not survive.’’

Prosecutors said they based their drunk driving charge against Perry on his appearance and actions after the crash. His eyes were glassy and red, and he had trouble maintaining his balance, prosecutors said.

Perry, who was arraigned separately from Weiand, was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. He posted bail and left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Weiand, who lives in Walpole, was ordered held pending a mental health evaluation. Prosecutors said that while he was being held in a cell after the crash, he struck his head and fists against the wall and told a trooper he feared for his wife and daughter’s safety.

“When I get out of here, I don’t know what I will do to them or to myself,’’ he said, according to court documents.

Weiand, who wore a light blue dress shirt, lowered his head in court as prosecutors described the details of the crash.

Prosecutors said a chemical breath test administered after the crash showed Weiand had a blood alcohol level of .20.

Both Perry and Weiand had long records of driving violations since the 1980s, according to records from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Perry had been involved in six accidents and was issued three speeding tickets.

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 indefinitely yesterday after the Registry found they were an “immediate threat’’ to public safety. Weiand’s license had been suspended for 180 days because he refused a breathalyzer test, said a Registry spokeswoman.

Weiand had been working as an assistant electronic monitoring coordinator in the state’s Probation Department since May 2008.

“As a result of his recent arrest, appropriate administrative action will be taken in compliance with the personnel policies and procedures of the Administrative Office of the Trial Court,’’ Coria Holland, the agency’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. She said she could not elaborate on what actions the office might take.

Weddleton was sworn in as a trooper in 1983, the same year Trooper George L. Hanna was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Auburn.

Over his career, Weddleton received two department commendations: one for helping to catch a suspect wanted in the rape and kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, and another for his help apprehending two robbery suspects.

Weddleton died the same day police had scheduled a fund-raiser in Dorchester honoring Trooper Mark Charbonnier, who was fatally shot in 1994 during a traffic stop in Kingston, and Richard Dever, a sergeant in the Suffolk sheriff’s department, who was stabbed to death outside a Charlestown bar in 2005.

More than 300 troopers and officers from other agencies gathered at Florian Hall observed a moment of silence for Weddleton.

“It’s kind of hit home,’’ said State Police Sergeant Dean LeVangie, who had known Weddleton for 22 years. “He was a true family man. A South Shore guy.’’

Globe librarian Lisa Tuite and John Ellement and Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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