Lt. Gov. to release black box data

Murray makes request to State Police

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray today directed the State Police to release the data contained on the “black box” of the car he was driving the morning of his crash in Sterling last month when Murray said he was out early surveying storm damage.

Murray told reporters after the crash that he was an early riser and had left his house in Worcester before dawn to get a cup of coffee and monitor the impact of unusual October snowstorm that had downed trees and power lines across central Massachusetts.

The lieutenant governor, who was driving a state-owned Crown Victoria, was uninjured in the crash that totaled the vehicle. He told reporters at the State House the morning of the accident that he had skidded on a patch of ice, rolling the vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate I-190 on his way back to Worcester.

“I do not want to set a precedent where the Massachusetts State Police’s investigations of accidents are subject to any outside influence. However, my position as Lieutenant Governor makes this a unique situation. As an elected official, I am rightfully held to a higher standard and I believe you can make the information public in this instance without threatening your standard procedures for all other accident investigation,” Murray wrote in a letter to State Police Colonel Marian McGovern.

The State Police up until today had resisted releasing the information contained on the box even after Secretary of State William Galvin ruled that police had to respond to a public records request made by the Boston Herald with either a release of the data or a more detailed denial.

A spokesman for the State Police said the agency would comply with Murray’s request, but explained that “black-box” data is not typically analyzed in crashes that do not involve fatalities, serious injury, or criminal charges.

“It was not in our view the best use of resources to do that, but at the lieutenant governor’s request we will comply,” said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman.

The data recorder, according to Procopio, will provide an insight into the speed of the vehicle at the time of the crash as well as the throttle position, the RPM’s of the engine, any changes in velocity and whether the air bag deployed, the brakes were applied and whether Murray was wearing a seat belt. The box captures the period 20 seconds before the crash through five seconds after the air bags deploy.

Murray said the morning of the crash that he was wearing a seat belt and that the air bags deployed.

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State House News Service
Procopio said he anticipates it will take seven to 10 days to make the data available because the State Police’s collision reconstruction experts are busy investigatng several serious accidents over the past couple days. He said both the police report on the findings from the black box and the raw data will be made available to the media.

On the morning of the crash, Murray told reporters he requested a breathalyzer test to remove any doubt or suspicion that he may have been under the influence while driving. He said he recorded a zero blood-alcohol level.

Asked how fast he had been driving at the time of the crash, Murray said he believed he was driving “approximately at the speed limit,” but couldn’t be sure.