HAVERHILL — State police have opened an investigation to determine the identity of the trooper who is alleged to have intervened in retired Lt. Col Paul Regan's 2005 hit-and-run accident, a spokesman for the agency said yesterday.
"If a trooper did intervene in that manner as alleged, it would be a violation of departmental policy," said state police spokesman David Procopio. "We are investigating to see if we can identify the sergeant."
An internal investigation by Haverhill police found that Haverhill Sgt. Harry Miller violated several department rules in his handling of the February 2005 accident in which Regan crashed his white Mercury into another vehicle at the intersection of Route 110 and Forest Street and then fled the scene. Regan, who lives in Rowley, retired in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel.
A report by Haverhill Lt. Anthony Haugh says Miller changed the nature of Regan's accident on police paperwork from a hit-and-run to a "regular" motor vehicle accident and decided not to charge Regan with a crime after meeting with an identified state police sergeant. The meeting took place less than one hour after the accident at Haverhill's Westgate Plaza, the report said.
Police said Miller told them he could not recall the name of the trooper who came to meet him and that he did not write it down anywhere or document the meeting in any way.
"Sergeant Miller stated that he met with a sergeant from the state police barracks who wanted to relay that one of his troopers (Paul Regan) called the barracks to report that he was involved in an accident in Haverhill; and to call Haverhill (police) and let them know his information, and he did not stop because he was feeling ill," Haugh's report said.
Haugh's report stresses that Regan was no longer a state trooper at the time of the accident. The report also says Miller decided on his own not to charge Regan and to switch the call from a hit-and-run to "a regular accident."
"Because the sergeant came to me face-to-face and gave me an explanation, that's why I did not charge Mr. Regan," Miller told investigators.
Haugh's report said police were unable to determine whether Miller contacted Regan about the accident at all. In a formal interview with Haugh at the police station last month, Miller told investigators he could not recall meeting or speaking to Regan about the accident, according to the report.
Haverhill police Chief Alan DeNaro has suspended Miller for five days without pay, and Miller faces additional punishment up to termination following a hearing that is expected to be held this month. Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini has said he intends to hire a lawyer from outside the city's government to hear the case.
According to police reports, a witness followed Regan as he fled from the scene and eventually relayed his license plate number to police. Another witness told police he was "stunned" to see Regan's vehicle drive away from the accident before police arrived. When they were contacted by Haugh for his new investigation, both those witnesses told Haugh that police never contacted them for follow-up interviews.
The other driver in the accident told Haugh that she remembers being told by Regan's insurance company that Regan told its claims agents that he was taking cough syrup at the time of the accident, according to Haugh's report.