Witness describes fatal crash that claimed state trooper’s life during trial of driver high on medical marijuana

Trooper Thomas L. Clardy.

WORCESTER — Christopher Lindsay was driving back from his son’s medical appointment on March 16, 2016, when he noticed in his mirror a black sedan coming up behind him on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Lindsay said he was traveling about 70 to 75 miles per hour, but the sedan appeared to be going faster when it went past him. “He passed me like I was stopped,” he said.

After the sedan went by, Lindsay testified that it moved across two lanes and smashed into a State Police cruiser that was stopped in the breakdown lane.

Lindsay, who lives in Sturbridge, testified that after witnessing the crash, he pulled over and ran down into the ditch, where the cruiser had ended up. He said he reached into the window to try to use the radio to call for help, but the radio was dead.


Lindsay was one of several witnesses who took the stand Monday at Worcester Superior Court for the jury-waived trial of David Njuguna, a Webster man who is accused slamming his Nissan Maxima into the parked State Police cruiser on that fateful day in March, fatally injuring Trooper Thomas L. Clardy, 44, a married father of seven.

Prosecutors have alleged that Njuguna was high on medical marijuana when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into Clardy’s State Police cruiser.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including manslaughter.

Njuguna’s lawyer, Peter Ettenberg, says his client lost consciousness because of a “medical event” and was not impaired by marijuana.

According to officials, Clardy had returned to his parked cruiser after pulling over a driver for a traffic violation when it was struck. The Nissan Maxima smashed into the back of Clardy’s Ford Explorer without slowing, authorities allege.

The impact pushed Clardy’s cruiser into the car that had been pulled over. The driver and two passengers in that car were not injured. Clardy, who lived in Hudson, sustained traumatic injuries in the crash and was taken to a Worcester hospital, where he was pronounced dead.


Clardy, who was 44 years old, joined the State Police in 2005, was the father of four girls and two boys officials said.

Another witness in the case was State Police Sergeant Emily Labrecque. She testified that she took photos of the scene of the crash and State Police cruiser 265, which were shown on monitors in the courtroom. The images showed that the cruiser sustained extensive damage in the crash.

Labrecque was also questioned on photographs that she took of the Nissan Maxima. The images showed the front of the Maxima had been smashed in and the airbags had deployed. Inside the Maxima she took photos of a cell phone, an inhaler, an open pack of Newport cigarettes, a Zippo-style lighter, and several labeled prescription-like bottles.

Njuguna, who wore his hair short and was dressed in a dark suit and tie, remained silent during the proceedings.

The Globe reported in the aftermath of the crash that Njuguna’s license was suspended for 180 days in October 2013 when he refused to take a breathalyzer after being stopped by police in Oxford, according to Registry of Motor Vehicles records. His license was reinstated in June 2014 after he paid a reinstatement fee, and it was valid at the time of the fatal crash, according to the records.


John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.