NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

April 9, 2012

Ex-trooper's crash deserved closer scrutiny

It's unclear what caused a retired high-ranking state trooper to allegedly crash his Cadillac Escalade into a utility pole in West Newbury last weekend, knocking out power to numerous residents for half a day. But it's crystal clear that the incident, and the way it was handled by Haverhill police, merits much closer scrutiny.

The driver fled the scene of the accident on Route 113 at the Training Field, driving more than a mile toward the Rocks Village Bridge with a damaged vehicle, his airbag deployed and his windshield smashed. West Newbury police eventually caught up with him in Haverhill. Soon after that, Haverhill police assumed control of the situation and, curiously, there was no arrest or even any mention of the trooper in the log.

The incident immediately caused a furor among West Newbury residents. Several contacted The Daily News within a day or so of the accident, asking for details of what had happened and alleging that the incident was being covered up because "rumor had it" that a police officer was involved.

By Wednesday, five days after the incident, some answers were starting to emerge. West Newbury police released their report and said that Charles Noyes, 62, of Haverhill, would be charged with reckless operation for crashing into the pole and fleeing the scene. According to state records, Noyes retired in 2006 as deputy superintendent, which is the second-highest rank in the state police force. He earns a pension of $117,379 per year.

But the information released by West Newbury police doesn't answer all the questions. One would expect that after an incident such as this, an arrest would occur and we would know the answer to the question that many people were asking: was this a drunken driving accident?

This incident doesn't seem to have been handled in the manner that so often plays out when an average citizen is involved in a crash and then flees the scene, and that only raises questions about whether the driver was given special treatment.

West Newbury police, to their credit, have provided the bulk of the information on how this incident was handled. Now it's up to Haverhill police to explain how the investigation was handled when it fell into their lap and whether special treatment was given.

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