Police say Bay State Lt. governor’s car going 108 mph before crash

Posted Jan. 03, 2012, at 8:51 p.m.

BOSTON — Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray was driving 108 miles per hour just moments before his car careered off the highway and overturned last November, according to a police report released Tuesday.

The report shows Murray, who walked away with only a few scrapes and bruises, may have briefly fallen asleep at the wheel. The report showed no attempt to brake before the accident.

Murray was issued a $555 ticket for speeding, not wearing a seat belt and a lane violation in connection with the pre-dawn highway crash.

Murray said he takes full responsibility for the Nov. 2 accident on Interstate 190 in Sterling, which occurred at about 5:30 a.m.

“Given the seriousness of the accident I feel lucky to be alive and grateful that no one was injured,” Murray told reporters Tuesday outside the governor’s Statehouse office. “I recognize that I should have been more careful.”

The report appears at odds with comments that Murray made immediately after the accident.

At the time, Murray told reporters that he was driving around the speed limit, was wearing his seat belt and believed the cause of the accident was black ice.

The data gathered by the car’s “black box” moments before and after the accident show that Murray was speeding, was not wearing a seat belt and apparently fell asleep instead of hitting ice. Murray had asked the information to be released.

The data showed that the state-owned Crown Victoria that Murray was driving was traveling south on Route 190 at speeds ranging from 75 mph to 99 mph before going off the west shoulder of the road.

The car went another 140 feet across the grass shoulder before striking a rock ledge and flipping.

At the time of impact, the car was moving at about 92 mph, although the car’s top recorded speed was 108 mph about half a second before impact.

After hitting the ledge the car went another 232 feet south while rotating clockwise and rolling over, according to the report.

The “black box” data also showed there was no braking before impact and that Murray was not wearing a seat belt.

According to the police report, the data suggests that ice was not a factor, as most drivers who strike ice respond by sudden braking and trying to steer the car out of the spin.

“Neither sudden braking nor corrective steering are reflected in this data,” the report said.

The report also said that while it’s not possible to conclude “with 100 percent certainty” the cause of the crash, the data is consistent with a driver falling asleep and not realizing the car had gone off the road until it struck the ledge.

Murray says that he believes the police version of the event, including the explanation that he likely fell asleep. He said he had no recollection of nodding off.

He defended his earlier statements, saying he believed that he had put on his seat belt.

“My recollection (was that) I was wearing my seat belt,” he said. “After I walked away from the accident I certainly thought I was wearing my seat belt.”

He also said that as he left the car after the accident he noticed the icy conditions on the road and assumed that was the cause.

Murray also asked police to administer a field sobriety test that he said showed a zero blood-alcohol reading.

Murray on Tuesday offered the most detailed explanation yet of what he said occurred in the hours before the accident.

Murray said he was dropped off at his house by his state police detail at about 8:30 p.m. the night before in time to help his wife put his children to bed. He said one of his daughters woke him up early in the morning and he was unable to get back to sleep.

He said at about 4:45 a.m. he left in the car to grab a coffee and a newspaper and to gather his thoughts for the day.

“This is not the first time I’ve taken an early morning ride,” Murray said Tuesday. “I decided to get onto Route 190 to see what I could of the storm damage. I drove up to Route 2, turned around to head back to Worcester.

“What I remember next was the vehicle was off the road, the impact of the collision and the car turning over several times,” he added.

Asked if he was tired when he got behind the wheel, Murray said he couldn’t recall.

He also dismissed one more possible reason for the accident.

“I was not on the phone. I was not texting. I was not emailing in any way,” he said.

The $555 fine includes $430 for speeding (108 mph in a 65 mph zone); $100 for the marked lanes violation; and $25 for the seat belt violation.

The citation was delivered to the Murray at his home this morning.

Murray said he’ll pay the fine and plans to reimburse the state for the car.

 

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