A Lowell man was sentenced to a total of 3 1/2 years in prison, after pleading guilty to driving drunk and crashing into a state police cruiser in Andover, injuring a trooper and the woman he had just arrested.
Edison Martinez, 55, pleaded guilty Monday during a hearing in Salem Superior Court to his third drunken driving offense, as well as drunken driving causing serious injury, driving while his license was under suspension for a prior drunken driving conviction, and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
That weapon, prosecutors said, was the Toyota 4Runner he crashed into Trooper Mark Ward's cruiser, which was in the breakdown lane of Interstate 93 near Interstate 495 in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 2018, prosecutor Maria Markos told a judge.
Ward had just arrested a 33-year-old Methuen woman — on a drunken driving charge — and was waiting for a tow truck for her vehicle, his lights activated. That was just after 3 a.m.
A witness later said he saw the 4Runner head straight toward the cruiser, making no effort to brake or swerve.
Ward and the Methuen woman sitting in the rear of his cruiser were both taken to a hospital after the crash. Markos said Ward suffered a serious concussion that led to him being off duty for an extended period and affected his ability to care for his child. He continues to require follow-up treatment by a neurologist and pain management specialist, said the prosecutor.
Details of the woman's current condition were not given in court.
When other troopers arrived on the scene, Markos said, Martinez appeared to be drunk; he told officers he'd had three to four beers at a party and was driving because his passenger was not feeling well. His blood alcohol level two hours after the crash was .07, just below the legal limit.
He also said he didn't see the cruiser.
At the time, Martinez was still on probation for a drunken driving conviction in Woburn District Court in 2016; he was also convicted of drunken driving in 2010 in Lowell.
Martinez's attorney, Hilary McCamic said her client "wanted to tell the court he's sorry for the injuries he caused."
Martinez will serve 2 1/2 years on the drunken driving counts, to be followed by a mandatory year in custody on the driving after suspension for drunken driving count. The assault and battery counts will be punished by three years of probation.
"It's a really regrettable incident," said Judge Thomas Drechsler, who imposed the prison sentence and probation conditions that include no use of alcohol, random alcohol tests, and a substance abuse evaluation, as well as the loss of his license.