WALTHAM, MASS. (WHDH) - A Waltham police officer and a National Grid worker were killed Wednesday in a multi-vehicle crash in Waltham that also injured two other National Grid workers, Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said.
A 54-year-old New Hampshire man was taken into custody in connection with the crash after Ryan said he initially fled the scene, stole a police cruiser at knifepoint and led police on a chase.
While investigators continued to comb through the scene on Totten Pond Road past 11 p.m., a procession was also underway carrying the body of the fallen officer from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston.
The crash happened near 4 p.m.
Speaking in a press conference moments before 11 p.m., Ryan said Peter Simon of Woodsville, New Hampshire had been driving his pickup truck east on Totten Pond Road when he began to make a U-turn.
Ryan said Simon struck another vehicle while trying to turn around. She said he then headed further down Totten Pond Road, soon hitting the Waltham police officer and the National Grid worker.
Ryan identified the officer as Paul Tracey, 58, and said he had been working a roadside detail when he was struck. Ryan did not identify the National Grid worker who was killed, only describing him as a 36-year-old from Cambridge.
Of the two other National Grid workers who were injured, Ryan said one was taken to a hospital.
Ryan said Simon continued driving down Totten Pond Road after hitting the victims, striking at least two other vehicles before he allegedly abandoned his truck and fled on foot into a nearby neighborhood.
There, Ryan said Simon encountered a Waltham police officer, allegedly pulled a knife, stole the officer’s cruiser, and fled the scene.
Ryan said Simon later crashed the cruiser on Winter Street in Waltham. With police in pursuit, Ryan said, he was subsequently taken into custody.
Simon had been charged with two counts of manslaughter and armed robbery as of Wednesday night, according to Ryan. He is expected to be arraigned in Waltham District Court Thursday morning.
Ryan, in the meantime, described this incident as an “unimaginable tragedy.”
“For the families of both officer Tracey and the National Grid worker, this is a void that will not soon be filled,” she said.
Waltham Police Chief Kevin O’Connell separately spoke Wednesday night.
He said Tracey served Waltham “with distinction,” describing the 28-year veteran of the police force as “a compassionate police officer that always looked out for the underdog.”
“He was an amazing husband, a loving father and a friend to all, especially the men and women of this police department,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell continued, asking for privacy on behalf of Tracey’s family while commending responding officers for their work to provide medical aid to victims and apprehend Simon.
Crews on Totten Pond Road in Waltham were cleaning up and removing damaged vehicles late Wednesday night.
In Burlington, SKY7-HD was over Lahey Hospital when Tracey’s body was brought into a hearse in a casket draped with an American flag.
After saluting Tracey’s casket, law enforcement personnel left the hospital around 10:40 p.m. and proceeded to escort the hearse toward Boston, where dozens of officers lined the route to the medical examiner’s office.
As the local law enforcement community gathered in-person, numerous agencies and organizations also took to social media.
“We offer our most sincere condolences to the men and women of the Waltham police,” the MBTA Transit Police Department said in a post on X. “Our thoughts & prayers are with our brother officer’s family, friends and loved ones.”
“Sad news out of Waltham,” the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association said in its own post.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our brother and sister officers in Waltham and all impacted by this terrible tragedy,” the patrolmen’s association later continued.
In Newton, the Newton Police Department similarly shared “thoughts and prayers” for the Waltham Police Department and the National Grid workers involved in this incident Wednesday afternoon.
Ryan’s office in a joint statement with O’Connell said additional charges against Simon are likely.
Officials continued, saying the investigation into this incident was ongoing as of Wednesday night.
This is a developing story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest updates.
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