By TRACY GORDON FOX, Courant Staff Writer
BETHANY -- A suspended state trooper who was involved in four drunken driving incidents, but never faced charges for any of them, was involved in a head-on collision Thursday night, police said.
Authorities say there was no indication that alcohol was a factor in the crash and that the trooper was probably not at fault.
The suspended trooper, Eugene Baron Jr., 42, of Southington and the driver of the other car were both seriously injured, police said.
Baron was traveling south on Route 63 in Bethany at 7:25 p.m. when his Jeep Wrangler was struck head-on by a Jeep traveling north, state police said.
The other Jeep was being driven by Michael A. Carrera, 48, of Branford, an iron worker. Both men were trapped inside their vehicles and had to be freed by the Bethany Fire Department. Baron and Carrera suffered serious back, neck and abdominal injuries in the crash and were in serious condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital, police said. Baron's passenger, Jennifer Crooks, 36, of Naugatuck, broke her leg in the crash, police said.
There was no indication that the accident involved drunken driving, said Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle. Police are still investigating.
"In any serious accident, we would look for that," Boyle said. "We have to take each accident on its own merit."
Boyle said the preliminary investigation indicates that the accident was caused by Carrera, who swerved into Baron's lane.
Baron was suspended from the force after being involved in seven alcohol-related incidents, including four of drunken driving, three of them in a police cruiser. He was never arrested, but his police powers were suspended, and his cruiser was taken from him. Baron is the subject of several internal affairs investigations.
His multiple cases of drunken driving were documented in an investigation into the internal affairs division of the state police conducted by New York State Police at the request of Boyle.
In the most recent incident, a New York state trooper on patrol near the Connecticut border found Baron passed out behind the wheel on an I-84 exit ramp, parked with the engine running. Baron was turned over to Connecticut state police but was never arrested.
New York investigators chastised Connecticut State Police for not taking "prompt and appropriate action" against Baron's alcohol abuse and drunken driving. "The failure by CSP and the local police to initiate appropriate enforcement and disciplinary action against [Baron] enabled him to continue his potentially destructive behavior, which endangered the public and exposed the state of Connecticut to significant potential liability," the report said.
Copyright 2007 The Hartford Courant
Suspended Conn. state trooper injured in crash