Trooper injured trying to stop wrong-way driver; three vehicles hit before driver crashes
A State Police trooper and two motorists were injured late Tuesday when a suspected drunk driver traveled the wrong way on Interstate 91 in Longmeadow, smashing into three vehicles before finally crashing his own vehicle, State Police said.
The name of the trooper was not released, but State Police spokesman David Procopio wrote in an e-mail that he was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where he was treated and released for minor injuries following the 10 p.m. incident.
A 33-year-old Florida resident who was a passenger in a 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 22-year-old Enfield, Conn., woman who was driving a 2011 Toyota Corolla suffered incapacitating but non-life-threatening injuries and were also taken to Baystate Medical Center, Procopio wrote.
The trooper’s 2013 Ford Interceptor, a marked cruiser, was heavily damaged, he wrote.
According to Procopio, the incident began when the suspected drunk driver — a West Springfield man now identified as Yevgeniy Y. Rudenko — was driving into Longmeadow on I-91 from Connecticut. While operating a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado, the 31-year-old Rudenko was driving north in the southbound lanes and State Police were alerted by passing motorists.
The trooper who “was on patrol around Mile Marker 3 quickly located the wrong way driver coming toward him. The suspect was in the breakdown lane,’’ Procopio wrote. “The Trooper positioned his cruiser in front of the wrong-way operator in an attempt to stop him and prevent injury to other motorists.”
Instead of stopping, however, the driver smashed into the cruiser and continued driving north in the southbound lanes, Procopio wrote. Soon after, the driver hit the Tahoe and Camry — and then flipped over when it crashed on the Longmeadow/Springfield line, Procopio wrote.
“The suspect was not injured when he crashed. He was taken out of his vehicle and Troopers observed obvious signs of impairment,’’ Procopio wrote. He was taken to the State Police barracks in Springfield for booking on multiple charges.
The southbound lanes were closed until about midnight for the investigation and debris cleanup.
Rudenko faces multiple charges, including operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, state highway wrong-way violation, possession of an open container of alcohol while driving, marked lanes violation, and speeding.
He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Springfield District Court.