Cruiser struck; trooper injured

PALMER – A Massachusetts state police trooper received serious injuries when his cruiser was struck from behind by another driver on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Two other people were also taken to Baystate Medical Center for treatment after the 7:15 a.m. accident Sunday.

Trooper Steven Larocco, 39, who is assigned to the Northampton barracks, had stopped to assist the driver of a Jeep Liberty. He had stopped in the eastbound side of the highway between the median and the left lane near Exit 8, said Sgt. Michael Popovics, spokesman for the state police.

Larocco was sitting in his cruiser when Robert Murangi, 40, of Federal Way, Washington, who was driving a Dodge Avenger, struck the cruiser from behind, crumbling the rear end of the car, and pushing him forward into the Jeep.

Murangi was not injured but two of his passengers, were taken to the Baystate Medical Center by ambulance. Juliana Muthee, 21, was treated for serious injuries and Christopher Munyiri, 26 was taken for evaluation. Both are from Brockton, Popovics said.

Murangi was cited for having an open container of alcohol in the car and for failure to take care in stopping, Popovics said.

The driver of the Jeep, Martin Prendergast, 23, of Weymouth, suffered minor injuries.

“It is not known why he was stopped. That is still under investigation,” Popovics said.

Both eastbound lanes were closed for three hours after the accident, Popovics said.

This is the most recent in a number of accidents where drivers have hit state troopers in recent month across the state and the region.

Four months ago a Connecticut officer was killed on Interstate 91 after making a routine traffic stop near the Longmeadow border.

On Sept. 2, Connecticut State Trooper Kenneth R. Hall, 57, was struck on Interstate 91 in Enfield after he had pulled a motorist over for a minor traffic violation.

Hall was sitting in his cruiser between Exit 48 and 49 near the Longmeadow border when a another driver crossed two lanes of traffic and rear-ended Hall’s cruiser with his pickup truck.

Michael Pajak, 32, of 8 Cranberry Hollow, Enfield, faces a variety of charges in the accident including manslaughter in the first and the second degree with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, assault in the second degree with a motor vehicle and misconduct with a motor vehicle.