CHARLTON (CBS) - A State Trooper was killed in a crash on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Charlton Wednesday afternoon.
State Police identified the trooper as Thomas Clardy, 44. He was a United States Marine Corps veteran and had joined State Police in April 2005.
Clardy had pulled over a Chevy Tahoe for speeding on the westbound side of the highway around noon. Clardy returned to his SUV when a Nissan Maxima slammed into the rear of his vehicle.
Impact from the crash sent Clardy's SUV down a nearby embankment.
Clardy was rushed to the hospital by ambulance but did not survive.
David Njuguna, 30, of Webster has been charged following the crash.
Witnesses say Njuguna's Maxima was operating at a high rate of speed. State Police said Njuguna, for unknown reasons, swerved across three lanes of traffic and hit Clardy's SUV.
Njuguna was taken by MedFlight helicopter to an area hospital with serious injuries.
Both sides of the highway were shut down so the helicopter could land on the road.
First responders performed emergency first aid and CPR on Clardy before he was transported by ambulance.
Njuguna faces charges of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and failure to stay in marked lanes. Njuguna's driving record includes an accident in 2012 and a suspended license for refusing to take a breathalyzer test in 2013.
Traffic was backed up for several miles on the westbound side of the Pike. In some spots, drivers could be seen standing outside of their cars on the highway.
State Police said Clardy was working a supplemental patrol shift aimed at reducing crashes. His regular shift was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Clardy, a Hudson resident, was the father of seven children. He was assigned to the Charlton barracks in 2012.
"Today, we pray for him. We pray for them. The Massachusetts State Police are devastated for their loss and will never be able to fill the hole that is left in their lives from this day forward," said State Police Col. Richard D. McKeon. "But they will always be part of the State Police family. We will forever hold them tight to our hearts for the rest of their lives."
Clardy's body received a police escort to the medical examiner's office in Boston.
The procession arrived around 7 p.m.
Police cruisers lined the streets with their lights flashing as a van carrying Clardy's body arrived.
WBZ-TV's Julie Loncich reports
"The family needs to see that their loved one is honored and respected," Boston Police Chief William Gross said Wednesday night.
"It is a tough job and sometimes it's a thankless job so it's important for the family to see that in times like these, these tragic times when one of our officers fall, that people do care, that they do respect our profession."
State Police Sgt. Pardo Montagno thanked the first responders who came out to honor Trooper Clardy.
"That means a lot to the State Police," Sgt. Montagno said. "When things like this happen and we all get together, it kind of boosts up our morale, shows that we're all there, fighting for the same thing, trying to keep people safe."
Gov. Charlie Baker issued a statement Wednesday night about Clardy's death.
"Lauren and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Trooper Thomas Clardy who tragically lost his life in the line of duty," Baker said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones, fellow troopers and the entire law enforcement community during this very difficult time."
It had been five years since the State Police force lost someone in the line of duty.
In 2011, Trooper Ellen Engelhardt died from injuries she had suffered eight years earlier.
Engelhardt was parked by the side of Route 25 when her cruiser was hit by a drunk driver.
In 2010, Sgt. Douglas Weddleton was working a construction detail on Interstate 95 in Attleboro when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
This is the 42nd line of duty death in the history of the Mass State Police.
"He was extremely well liked by the men and women he worked with. He had a reputation as a hard worker, a good trooper and a great man," McKeon said about Clardy.
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