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Utility Worker, Police Officer Killed in Work Site Hit-and-Run

12 Dec, 2023 Liz Carey

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Waltham, Mass. (WorkersCompensation.com) – A utility employee and a police officer were killed Thursday when a pickup truck driver crashed through their work site, killing them both.

According to police reports, two other utility workers were injured in the crash in Waltham, Mass., and “multiple other vehicles” were struck before the driver abandoned the truck ad pulled a knife on another officer. Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a press conference the injured workers were treated and released from a nearby hospital.

“Clearly what happened ... is an unimaginable tragedy,” Ryan said. “These two men were doing their job at 4 o’clock in the afternoon when they were killed and crashes like this happen far too often.”

Roderick Jackson, 39, of Cambridge, was working for National Grid at about 4 p.m. Thursday when Peter Simon, 54 attempted to make a U-turn on the road. As he did, his truck struck a vehicle.

Police said Simon then attempted to flee the scene. After driving for about a quarter of a mile, Simon hit Jackson, as well as Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracey, 58, who was working the site as a police detail. The site included a trench that was identified by orange cones and flashing yellow lights, the prosecutor said.

Both men were taken to a nearby hospital where they died of their injuries, prosecutors said.

After hitting Jackson and Tracey, Simon kept going and struck other vehicles, including a National Grid truck. Simon eventually got out of his truck and attempted to flee on foot. When he encountered another Waltham police officer, Simon turned on him, brandished a knife, then stole the officer’s police cruiser and drove off, officials said.

Other officers followed Simon, but each time they tried to stop him, he would veer his car into an oncoming officer. Ultimately, Simon crashed the police cruiser and was arrested after he again tried to flee on foot.

Simon was arraigned on multiple charges, including two counts of manslaughter, armed robbery, failure to stop for police, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, larceny of a motor vehicle, assault with a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury and death, leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage, assault with a dangerous weapon, marked lanes violation and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. An attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf. The arraignment judge ordered him held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing scheduled for Dec. 14.

Jackson started working at National Grid in early 2021 and worked as a technician on the gas operations team.

"He was a highly-respected, talented and selfless teammate who worked extremely hard, took on extra duties and had built strong friendships with members on his team,” the utility company said in a statement. “He was always willing to lend a hand, roll up his sleeves and help a colleague. His loss is deeply felt throughout the company and he will be sorely missed.”

The company said the other two injured utility workers are expected to be okay.

The United Steelworkers Union said the organization mourns the death of its member, Jackson.

"The United Steelworkers International and USW Local 12003 mourn the passing of our brother, Roderick Jackson," the union said in a statement. "Three other members of USW 12003 were also injured in the accident that took brother Jackson’s life, and our community is united in good wishes for their full recovery.

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey on Thursday ordered flags lowered to half-staff at all state buildings in honor of Tracey.

Tracey, a 28-year veteran of the force, was mourned by members of the first responder community in Waltham. Dozens of officers, emergency medical workers and firefighters gathered near the medical examiner’s office in Boston, their blue and white emergency lights flashing, as Tracey’s body was transported to the office.

“He was a compassionate police officer, and always looked out for the underdog,” Waltham Police Chief Kevin O’Connell said of Tracey at a news conference. “He was an amazing husband, a loving father, and a friend to all.”


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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