Mass. Lt. Gov. Crashes State Car

By BOB SALSBERG | November 4, 2011

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray escaped serious injury when he lost control of his state-issued vehicle and crashed after hitting a patch of black ice early Wednesday on a state highway.

Murray was alone in the vehicle at the time of the accident, which occurred shortly before 5:30 a.m. on Interstate 190 in Sterling. He said he was not impaired and asked state police to conduct a field sobriety test so there would be no questions.

“I asked the trooper … for everyone’s protection and to ensure that no one can question, I asked them to do a field breath test,” Murray said at a news conference outside Gov. Deval Patrick’s Statehouse office.

“I blew a 0.00,” he said, meaning there was no alcohol in his system.

Murray, a Worcester resident, said he awakened early and had gone out about 5 a.m. to get coffee, pick up a newspaper and survey damage from the weekend snowstorm. He said he was returning home when the vehicle struck the ice and rolled over.

Murray said he was wearing his seat belt and the car’s air bag deployed.

Asked how fast he was driving, Murray said: “I believe I was around the speed limit.” A state police spokesman said there was no evidence to suggest Murray was speeding.

According to a state police report released later Wednesday, Murray told the trooper who responded to the crash that he lost control of the vehicle and it careened over 500 feet through the breakdown lane and a snow-covered highway shoulder before hitting a rocky ledge.

The trooper said he himself nearly slipped and fell on the ice after getting out of his cruiser at the scene. The officer saw cuts on the lieutenant governor’s hands, but said Murray signed a refusal for medical treatment.

The report said the car was totaled, with the most extensive damage to the passenger side. State police said the vehicle, when new, was valued at about $35,000. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

Murray, who was wearing a bandage on his hand, was not hospitalized and continued on his regular daily schedule, which included chairing a meeting of the Governor’s Council.

“I’m OK. There was damage to the vehicle,” Murray said. “People need to be careful, myself included.”

Murray said it was not uncommon for him to get up early and leave his home as he did Wednesday. Sterling, where the accident happened, is a town just north of Worcester.

The lieutenant governor has a state police driver assigned to him for official duty, but he said that the trooper was not scheduled to arrive at his home until 7 a.m. and that the driver doesn’t normally accompany him on personal errands.

Murray, a Democrat and former mayor of Worcester, is in his second term as lieutenant governor.

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