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Norfolk DA says he suffered ‘medical episode’ before crash

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, here in February, says he lost consciousness before crossing the center line in his car, triggering a four-car crash.

Bill Brett for The Boston Globe

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey, here in February, says he lost consciousness before crossing the center line in his car, triggering a four-car crash.

Two days after he caused a four-car crash in a car leased by the state, Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey released a statement explaining that he had suffered a “medical episode” and lost consciousness before his car veered into an oncoming lane of traffic in Milton.

“Fatigue, dehydration, and extreme temperatures contributed to my loss of consciousness,” Morrissey said in a statement issued Thursday. “On my doctor’s advice, I plan to take some time off to recuperate.”

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The police have said there was no indication that alcohol was a factor. Morrissey said that the Milton Police Department issued him a citation and that he expects a hearing will be held shortly to determine any criminal liability.

He also said that he intends “to be as transparent as possible in this process.”

But the circumstances surrounding the crash remained unclear, with Morrissey, his family, and Milton Police skirting questions from reporters. A woman at Morrissey’s Quincy home would speak to a reporter only from behind a closed door, saying that the statement would be forthcoming. Later in the day, a family friend opened the door, but said Morrissey was in bed.

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Milton Deputy Police Chief John E. King, who provided basic information about the accident Wednesday, was unavailable Thursday. No one else in the department would answer questions in his absence.

The Globe e-mailed King a public records request Thursday, and he swiftly responded: “Your request will be reviewed in the near future.” But he did not respond to questions about the crash.

Morrissey, 58, of Quincy, was elected Norfolk district attorney in 2010 after serving in the Legislature for 33 years.

On Wednesday, Milton police said Morrissey had crossed the double yellow line on Centre Street shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. His car collided with two other vehicles; a fourth vehicle went off the roadway.

Four people, including Morrissey, were taken to hospitals, and two drivers were cited. Milton police have not identified those injured, but Morrissey said all had been released.

Morrissey said he was discharged from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. He called the crash an “unfortunate accident” and said he was grateful that the others hurt in the accident appear to be OK. “I wish them a speedy recovery,” he said in his statement.

Morrissey said he does not remember the accident. He had been driving home from his Canton office Tuesday and had just made a series of calls on his hands-free wireless phone, he said.

“The last call I made was to order pizza,” he said. Then, he said, he was “perspiring and felt lightheaded.”

“The next thing I recall is being outside of my car which was stopped across two lanes of traffic,” he said in the statement.

He said his medical records “will show that I suffered a medical episode that caused me to lose consciousness.”

Former Middlesex district attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said that, if charges are filed, they would typically be handled by a different district attorney’s office.

“Normally, in matters like this, the clerks are brought in from a different county to avoid the appearance of a conflict, and a different prosecution office will consider whatever findings are made in the clerk’s hearing,” he said. “And then, to the extent that there is a case that results from it, normally a different DA’s office will handle it.”

Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at ebbert@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert. Javier Panzar can be reached at javier.panzar@globe.com Follow him on Twitter @jpanzar.
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