A 28-year veteran officer of the Waltham Police Department left behind “a void that will not soon be filled” after he was killed during a violent hit-and-run rampage through the National Grid work site he was detailing Thursday afternoon, the Middlesex County District Attorney said.
Officer Paul Tracey, 58, was one of two people killed when a New Hampshire man drove his pickup truck into the working men on Totten Pond Road around 4 p.m., the office said.
The suspect, Peter Simon, 54, of Woodsville, N.H., had pulled over and allowed a car to continue ahead behind him near the work site, then “suddenly shot” across the road to make a U-turn, the office said.
Simon collided with an oncoming Jeep and kept driving, the office said. He then drove into Tracey and a utility worker, identified only as a 36-year-old Cambridge man, killing both men, the office said.
“It’s important to remember that these two men were doing their job, at 4 in the afternoon, when they were killed,” said District Attorney Marion Ryan during a press conference on Wednesday night.
“Crashes like this happen far too often; it reminds us all of the dangers that officers and workers face when they are out on the roadways, performing their jobs,” Ryan said.
“While Tracey served this great city with distinction, he was a compassionate police officer and always looked out for the underdog,” Waltham Police Chief Kevin O’Connell said at Wednesday’s press conference.
“He was an amazing husband, a loving father and a friend to all, especially to the men and women at this police department,” O’Connell said, and extended his condolences to Tracey family.
Tracey had been recognized for his career of heroism in 2018 when he saved a woman’s life on Cape Cod, the Westborough Police Union Local 366 said. According to an article from Boston 25 at the time, he’d been off-duty on vacation with his family when a woman on the beach began overdosing.
It was around 5 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2018, at the Riviera Beach Resort in South Yarmouth when Tracey’s sister noticed the woman in distress, and the veteran officer rushed over to check on her alongside his cousin, a nurse from California, the outlet said.
Tracey and his cousin immediately started CPR once they realized the woman wasn’t breathing while bystanders called 9-1-1 and his brother went to the desk to find a defibrillator, the outlet said.
Because of Tracey and his family’s efforts, the medics and doctors who treated the woman at the scene credited him and his family with saving the woman’s life, the outlet reported.
Tracey later told the outlet he was thankful his two young children were jet-skiing at the time and didn’t have to witness his save, and said the police and fire departments respond to drug overdoses “almost daily,” the outlet wrote.
The veteran officer also credited his family to Boston 25, and said, “There’s strength in numbers.”
And his connection with his family ran deep: the Traceys appeared in four episodes of Family Feud in 2013 to win $20,000 and have some fun with Steve Harvey, joking with the host.
Tracey later told a reporter, “We had a blast,” and that he and his family would “do it again in a heartbeat” as they celebrated the appearance at a local bar that year, holding a little boy close in his arms.
Simon, the man suspected in Tracey’s death, was arrested — but not until after a lengthy and violent flee, the office said.
The New Hampshire men had continued driving after the fatal collision before getting out of his truck and running away, the office said. Two other National Grid employees were also injured in the crash, and one has since been released from the hospital.
Simon then ran into another Waltham officer and reportedly pulled a knife on them before he stole their cruiser and drove off inside, the office said. Simon then crashed the cruiser on Winter Street and ran away before he was arrested by a Waltham officer after a short foot chase, the office said.
Simon has been charged with two counts of manslaughter and armed robbery, and officials said more charges are likely following his arraignment in Waltham District Court Thursday.
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