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Plymouth crash victim is recalled as free-spirited, giving

BRAINTREE — The Rev. Paul Sughrue comforted more than 100 mourners Thursday with remembrances of Susan Macchi as mother, grandmother, friend, mental health worker, artist, even skydiver.

But amid a litany of tributes to the rich and giving life of the 64-year-old Carver woman, Sughrue also touched on the startling suddenness of her death: “We can say not only do we not want to be here, but we did not expect to be here.”

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Macchi and her daughter, Juliet, 23, were killed Sept. 22 in Plymouth in a head-on collision with a car driven by an off-duty state trooper who has been cited for drunken driving.

“She and her daughter were inseparable, and they still are,” said Nadia Dos Santos, a friend of Macchi’s from Plymouth, who wiped away tears outside the Church of St. Clare. “She treated others with respect and dignity. She was full of spirit, a good heart, someone who lived life to the fullest.”

Macchi and her daughter had been driving on Federal Furnace Road, returning from a Red Sox game, when they were struck by a car driven by John J. Basler, 25, of Kingston.

Basler, who is assigned to the State Police barracks in Milton, has been suspended without pay indefinitely. Police continue to investigate the accident, said Bridget Norton Middleton, an assistant Plymouth district attorney.

Plymouth police filed a report Thursday with the clerk-magistrate of Plymouth District Court. But their findings will not be made public until the clerk decides whether to issue criminal charges and schedules an arraignment, law enforcement officials said.

Plymouth police have cited Basler for drunken driving, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, improper storage of a non-large-capacity firearm, and carrying a firearm under the influence of alcohol. Additional charges are possible.

State Police did not mention Basler’s links to the agency until Plymouth police said they were citing him, almost a week after the accident. Since then, State Police have said they perhaps should have announced Basler’s connection sooner and that they are reviewing procedures.

Inside St. Clare’s Thursday, Sughrue focused on the many ways in which Macchi contributed to her family and society.

As a mental health counselor, Macchi worked at several facilities south of Boston and also had a private practice in Plymouth. She graduated from Braintree High School in 1966, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, and received master’s degrees in art and education from Lesley University in Cambridge. And as a “bon vivant,” in Sughrue’s words, she sampled the thrill of skydiving.

She had “the ability to leap from 1,400 feet in the sky to the ground below” and land with grace and confidence, he said.

That grace also was on abundant display at home in the varied artwork, including painting and jewelry, that she created, family and friends said.

Sughrue also prayed for Basler and his family during the service. The gesture, he said, was a recognition that the tragedy extended beyond the walls of his modest Braintree church.

“The family wanted to make sure there was no negativity, no animosity, and no lack of forgiveness,” Sughrue said later. “They helped me to lift us up.”

A memorial service for Juliet Macchi will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, at Memorial Church at Harvard University.

Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at macquarrie@
globe.com
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