‘Unimaginable, heartbreaking loss’: Community mourns Salem police officer killed in head-on crash

SALEM, Mass. (WHDH) — A community is mourning the loss of a 31-year veteran of the Salem Police Department who tragically died in a head-on collision in the city late Thursday night hours after filing retirement papers.

Off-duty patrolman Dana Mazola, 56, was involved in a crash that happened on Jefferson Avenue around 11:20 p.m., according to the Essex District Attorney’s Office.

Mazola and the second driver involved were taken to Salem Hospital, where Mazola succumbed to his injuries.

The current condition of the second driver was not immediately available.

Eight hours prior to the crash, Salem police say Mazola had filed for retirement. His final shift was slated for Aug. 7.

Officers honored Mazola with a procession from Salem Hospital to the Medical Examiner’s office.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said she was “absolutely devastated” to learn of Mazola’s passing.

“Dana was a conscientious and professional officer, a loving husband and father, and a devoted public servant to the people of Salem. He was, as we say, the ‘salt of the earth’ – a conscientious rank and file patrol officer who worked hard every single shift,” she said in a statement. “Our families often attended the same church services and I fondly recall his two girls helping keep my energetic (at the time) toddler occupied while seated in the pew next to ours. Dana had a big heart and was a warm and caring family man. On behalf of the residents he served with such diligence and dedication for 31 years, I want to express my deepest condolences to his wife Florene and his twin girls, Amanda and Savannah, and all of Dana’s family. This is an unimaginable and heartbreaking loss to them and to our whole community. May he rest in peace.”

Mazola began his law enforcement career in August of 1988 as a part-time correctional officer at the Salem Jail and served as an auxiliary police officer in Swampscott. He joined the Salem Police Department on April 28, 1989 as a reserve officer before being appointed as a full-time police officer on July 11, 1990.

In his application to become a police officer with the Salem Police Department, then-civilian Mazola wrote, “My main reason for wanting to become a police officer is that I have an ability to deal well with all types of people — and that is an important aspect of police work. In my opinion, a police officer has to deal well with the public and I can do that. I enjoy helping people solve their problems and helping them through stressful and traumatic situations.”

Salem police say he lived that sentiment every day of his career by treating all people with dignity and respect.

“No one could ask for a more loyal, dedicated and committed officer to serve the community and the Department the way Officer Mazola did every single day of his 31 years on the job,” Salem Police Chief Mary Butler wrote in a statement. “He was a man of integrity who had a heart as wide as the whole outdoors. There is not a single officer or employee who knew him, past or present, who is not impacted by the tragic and sudden loss of Dana Mazola.”

He is survived by his wife and twin daughters.

The crash remains under investigation and the DA’s office says no charges have been issued at this time.

This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.

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