THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Fitchburg man is interviewed about hit-run injuries to trooper

Colonel Marian McGovern, head of the Colonel Marian McGovern, head of the (Donald Rockhead for The Boston Globe)
By Maria Cramer
Globe Staff / May 26, 2011

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As the state trooper struck by a car was taken into surgery yesterday, investigators interviewed a Fitchburg man who said he had details about the Tuesday morning incident in a highway tunnel in South Boston.

State Trooper Joseph Drane, 55, a father of two grown children, suffered three breaks below the knee after a driver ran him down, State Police said. Drane was struck when he tried to flag down the driver. The motorist, who was speeding, swerved into the trooper and sped away, police have said.

Yesterday morning, an unidentified man in his 20s walked into the State Police barracks in Leominster and approached the front desk, where he told troopers he had information about the accident, said Colonel Marian McGovern, superintendent of the State Police.

She declined to describe what he said.

Three law enforcement officials with knowledge of the case said the man gave conflicting statements, telling troopers he was a passenger in the car that struck Drane, but then saying that he was the driver.

He was not charged yesterday.

“He is a person of interest,’’ McGovern said.

Speaking to reporters outside police headquarters in Framingham, McGovern urged the driver of the car to surrender.

“Make it easy on yourself,’’ she said. “Make it easy on law enforcement. It’s not just State Police who are looking for you.’’

A bulletin describing the car has gone out to other law enforcement agencies.

McGovern also asked the public to be on alert for the car, a two-door black sedan with a light colored interior. The car is similar to a Honda Civic, though police are not sure of the exact model.

There is probably damage to the right side of the front end, the right fender, the right hood, or the lower right corner of the windshield, police said.

Drane, who McGovern said was in serious condition at Boston Medical Center, was scheduled to have surgery performed on his leg yesterday afternoon.

He was injured working an overtime shift enforcing speed limits just past 9 a.m. on the ramp to Interstate 90 east from Interstate 93 north, before the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel.

McGovern said he was on the side of the tunnel, near the ramp, outside the travel lane.

“He was in a very safe zone,’’ she said.

The car was captured by several surveillance cameras, and there were several witnesses, police said. One motorist stopped and used Drane’s radio to call for help, McGovern said.

Yesterday, police were still looking for two potential witnesses, one in a white van and the other in a white or silver midsize sedan, who were cut off by the fleeing car and may have caught a better glimpse of the vehicle.

Since Jan. 1, 2010, 44 state troopers have been struck and injured while they were on foot or in their vehicles.

One, Sergeant Douglas Weddleton, was killed last June in Mansfield while he was on a traffic detail.

Half of those incidents involved drivers under influence of drugs or alcohol, McGovern said.

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com.