Christmas should be a time of celebration—not a time of mourning. But the latter happens all too often, and alcohol is often the culprit.
It certainly was on Christmas Eve in the town of Oxford, Massachusetts. Luckily, no one was killed. But it could have been far worse.
Just after 10pm on December 24th, Police Officer Robert W. Picard had stopped his cruiser to assist the driver of a van that had become stranded at the side of the road. Officer Picard had parked his police cruiser near the fire headquarters at 181 Main Street.
He had pulled up behind the van that had become stuck in a snow bank, and left the vehicle with blue lights flashing.
At 10pm, it was dark. The flashing lights would have been visible for a great distance but not, apparently, for the driver of the Nissan Quest that slammed into it.
Officer Picard was standing between his police cruiser and the stranded van in the breakdown lane when Suzette Mantha, 41, of Woodstock Connecticut happened along in her 1996 Nissan and slammed into the back of the police cruiser, causing a winter car accident.
Somehow she managed not to see the blue flashing lights illuminating the night sky. But perhaps the fact that Mantha was driving under the influence, with a blood alcohol content alleged to be nearly three times the legal limit when her Nissan slammed into the police cruiser, had something to do with obscuring her powers of observation.
Officer Picard was thrown forward by the impact of his own police cruiser slamming into him, and he landed in a heap underneath the van in front. He remained pinned under the vehicle until help arrived. Picard was treated in hospital for leg injuries and later released, but the holiday car accident could have been a lot worse.
The driver of the Nissan was charged with driving under the influence and negligent driving. She was administered a breath analysis that showed, according to the officer who conducted the test, a blood-alcohol content of .23 percent.
The legal limit is .08—which also happens to be the fleet number of the police cruiser that was hit, it turns out, a second time in '08 by a driver blowing over the .08 legal limit.
It should be noted that in June that same police cruiser was rammed head-on by a car travelling in the wrong direction on I-395 in the wee hours of the morning. The driver of the car was charged with negligent driving, a wrong-way violation, and driving while under the influence of alcohol.
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However, a reading of .23, if proven to be true in a court of law, is unforgiveable. Luckily, in this case the driver did not cause any harm to herself, or serious harm to someone else. The police officer in this winter car accident is expected to recover from his injuries. However, other horrific Christmas car crashes have claimed lives, including children.
Further, a holiday car accident can result in life-altering injuries, and medical bills can bankrupt an otherwise solvent family. If you have been harmed emotionally, or physically by a Christmas car crash, you need to speak to an attorney.