Chatham Police Cruiser Runs over Student, DA Investigating Fatal Accident

CHATHAM – A 22-year-old college student is dead after being run over by a Chatham police officer in his cruiser early this morning.

Police say Garrett Gagne, 22, of Longmeadow was in Chatham with friends to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

A preliminary investigation shows head trauma consistent with the body being struck while prone, according to a statement released at about 1 p.m. Thursday by the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office.

Gagne was a senior at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. University President William L. Fox released a statement that Gagne was a government major and a four-year member of the men’s lacrosse team.

“An accomplished athlete and fine student, Garrett also worked on the game management crew for Saints football home games,” he wrote. The statement continued, quoting Gagne’s lacrosse coach that Gagne “was close to all of us on the team–a leader, mentor and friend. His  smile and enthusiasm were contagious. He could light up the field and sidelines with his personality. This sudden and shocking loss touches every one of us who knew him as one of our best.”

Prior to enrolling at St. Lawrence, Gagne captained both the lacrosse and ski racing teams at Longmeadow High School where he was a three-time All-Scholastic honoree. He was Longmeadow’s Offensive Player of the Year for lacrosse and a two-time Massachusetts state champion in ski racing.

The campus plans a gathering in Gagne’s memory after the holiday break.

The Chatham Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Detective Division and State Police Crash Reconstruction Team have been investigating the incident which took place on Crowell Road in Chatham at approximately 4:07 this morning.

Chatham Police Chief Mark R. Pawlina in a prepared statement released at about 10:15 a.m. on  January 1, wrote that the Chatham Police Officer was driving a marked police cruiser traveling south on Crowell Road, responding to an emergency call, “when the cruiser ran over an unknown object lying in the roadway.”

The release continued, “The officer immediately stopped the cruiser and determined that it was a human body. The officer called for assistance and gave medical aid to the victim.”

Gagne was transported to Cape Cod Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The Chatham Police release states, “It is unknown why or how the victim was lying in the roadway at that location prior to the accident. It is also unknown what the victim’s condition was just prior to the accident.”

Police say the stretch of roadway on Crowell Road where the accident occurred was unlit with no street lights
and no exterior lighting on the near-by buildings.

Police say Gagne’s friends could not be reached or located immediately after the accident. The investigation is continuing into identifying and locating the whereabouts of the victim’s friends.

Chatham Police Chief Mark Pawlina called for the Massachusetts State Police Crash Reconstruction Team and the Massachusetts Detective Division from the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office to conduct a full and thorough investigation of this accident. That investigation is on-going.

The name of the officer will not be released at this time, but will be released within 24 hours, according to police.

The Chatham Police Department states that it “extends its condolences to the family of Garrett Gagne during
this grievous time. The department also extends our concerns to the officer involved in this tragic accident.”