Merrimack man charged in serious drunk driving accident

Rollover in Massachusetts left female passenger in critical condition

A 22-year-old Merrimack man has been charged in an accident on Route 3 in Massachusetts on Friday night that has left his passenger in critical condition at Lahey Hospital in Burlington, Mass.

James Turnquist, 22, of Merrimack, is in Essex County Jail in Middleton, awaiting a Monday morning arraignment in Lowell District Court on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, operating under the influence of drugs, marked lanes violation, and negligent operation.

Around 11:45 p.m. Friday, Massachusetts State Police in Concord and Andover responded to several calls from concerned motorists regarding an erratic operator on Route 3 North in Chelmsford. Troopers searching for the car say they found the 2006 Ford Focus had been involved in an accident and the car had rolled onto its roof.

A 27-year-old female passenger was ejected onto the highway and sustained serious head and leg injuries, police say. She was transported to Lahey Hospital in Burlington and remains listed in critical condition, according to a press release from Massachusetts State Police.

Turnquist was transported to Saints Memorial Hospital in Lowell for treatment of his own injuries. After being treated and released, Turnquist was taken into custody by troopers and booked at the State Police Barracks in Andover. Police say he was observed to have red, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a heavy odor of an alcohol on his breath.

The investigation into the accident is being conducted by Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police. Also assisting at the scene were the Chelmsford Fire Department and EMS.

Route 3 was closed for a short time overnight between Friday and Saturday to  attend to Turnquist and his passenger and for removal of the vehicle. No further information is available at this time.