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Peabody police sergeant struck, seriously injured by vehicle on Route 1

Posted by Justin Rice  December 5, 2011 02:42 PM

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Justin A. Rice for Boston.com

State Police Crime Scene and Accident Reconstruction teams at the site where Peabody Police Sergeant Eric Zawacki was struck by a car this morning.

A Peabody police sergeant was seriously injured after being hit by a pickup truck today while working a detail on Route 1 in Peabody, authorities said.

The officer was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after being hit by a vehicle at 234 Newbury St. (Route 1), near the Northeast Nursery, officials said.

He was identified by police as as Sergeant Eric Zawacki. Zawacki, 37, was working a paid detail and was standing near his marked Peabody police cruiser when a man driving a black Chevrolet Avalanche stopped and asked for directions, police said.

While he was talking to the Avalanche driver, a red pickup truck slammed into Zawacki and his cruiser, police said. All three vehicles were at the scene as State Police investigated. The tail lights of Zawacki’s cruiser were broken during the crash while the pickup sustained damage to the right side of the vehicle.

Mass General Public Affairs Officer Kory Dodd said around 3:20 p.m. that Zawacki was in serious condition but she could not give any more details because of privacy laws. She said his "vital signs are unstable and not within normal limits. The patient is acutely ill."

State Police Lieutenant Tracy Webber said they will determine later today if the driver of the red pickup truck will be charged in connection with the crash. “It’s still a preliminary investigation,’’ she said at the scene. “Because it’s an active work zone, that is a contributing factor too. The roadway was wet, that comes into play.’’ Two of the southbound lanes on Route 1 were temporarily closed after the crash while troopers and Peabody police investigated.

Peabody Police Detective Michael Crane called Zawacki a “top notch” officer and said that to his knowledge Zawacki had never been hit by a car while working a detail.

Zawacki has been a member of the department for 13 years and was a reserve prior to that, according to Detective Peter Olson.

Zawacki was the department’s K-9 officer up until recently because the K-9 retired within the last year, Crane said.  

Crane said no charges have been filed against the suspect as of this afternoon.

“I’m sure once they are done with [the State Police investigation] if a citation is required they will process that accordingly,” Crane said.

Jaime Lutz can be reached at jaime.lutz@globe.com and Justin A. Rice can be reached at jrice.globe@gmail.com.

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