Lt. Gov. Murray Asleep At Wheel, No Seat Belt, 108 MPH Before Crash

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray was apparently asleep at the wheel, going more than 100 miles an hour when he crashed his car on I-190 in Sterling last year.

According to data from the black box in Murray’s totaled unmarked cruiser released Tuesday, he was driving 85 miles per hour before sunrise Nov. 2 when the car started picking up speed.

Read: New Crash Report (.pdf)

The box, which recorded data 20 seconds before the crash and five seconds after impact, shows Murray’s state-issued vehicle was going in a straight line and he never hit the brakes.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports

The car reached a high speed of 108 mph approximately less than a half-second before the crash. The posted speed limit in the area was 65.

The data also showed the Lieutenant Governor was not wearing his seat belt.

He was fined $555 – $430 for speeding (108 mph in a 65 mph zone), $100 for a marked lanes violation, and $25 for the seat belt violation. Murray said he will reimburse the state for the value of the car, which officials say was about $9,000 at the time of the crash.

“The citation was delivered to the Lt. Governor at his home this morning,” State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Police had originally blamed icy conditions on the crash.

“Earlier determinations that the vehicle hit black ice and went out of control were based on operator statements and observations of slippery conditions on the road,” Procopio said.

“The new data, however, suggests that the cause was not black ice, as most drivers who strike ice respond by sudden braking and attempts to correct the vehicle’s course by steering action. Neither sudden braking nor corrective steering are reflected in this data.”

Retired state trooper Kerry Alvino says black box data is generally very accurate. She says in the Lt. Governor’s case, it shows he was “flooring the gas,” and she’s “amazed that an occupant in this vehicle wasn’t seriously injured, if not killed.” Alvino says 33 percent of all vehicles on the road contain so-called black boxes.

WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager spoke with Alvino

“Based on this data, it is not possible to conclude with 100 percent certainty the cause of the crash. The data, however, is potentially consistent with an operator falling asleep and not realizing the car had gone off the road until the point of impact.”

Hours after the crash, Murray said he was wearing a seat belt, wasn’t speeding and was not under the influence of anything.

Read: Original Police Report (.pdf)

He never mentioned falling asleep, until releasing a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“I understand the vehicle accelerated significantly without breaking or turning seconds before the accident which State Police say is consistent when someone falls asleep at the wheel,” said Murray. “I now believe that is what caused my accident.”

“I take full responsibility for my accident. I am grateful that I am OK and that no one was injured.”

Murray had said he was driving that morning to avoid waking up his wife and two daughters, to get coffee and newspapers, and to survey ice storm damage in the region.

The crash happened at 5 a.m. and it was pitch black at the time. He said he had driven more than 30 miles.

“This is not the first time I have taken an early morning ride and I do from time to time,” said Murray.

“While out I decided to take a ride on Route 190 to see what I could of the storm damage. I drove up to Route 2 and turned around to head back to Worcester. What I remember next was the vehicle was off the road. The impact of the collision and the car turning over several times.”

Murray asked to take a breathalyzer after the accident and it came back 0.0.

State Police initially said they were not going to release the data, but the Lieutenant Governor requested that it be released saying as an elected official he should be held to a higher standard.

The black box does not record information that would show where he was driving prior to the crash.

However, the box indicated the car had been on for 42 minutes.

Based on the location of the crash, the data is consistent with what Murray told investigators, that he had been coming from his home.

Governor Deval Patrick released the following statement Tuesday:

“I was relieved that no one was hurt when I first learned of the Lt. Governor’s car accident. After hearing today’s report about it, I am again relieved. He is fortunate beyond measure to have walked away from that accident. The Lt. Governor has taken responsibility for the accident and is counting his blessings. As his colleague and his friend, so am I.”

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson and Christina Hager contributed to this report.  

You can follow Karen on Twitter at @karenreports.

  • Brett

    Leave the guy alone – We all know half the time in this state interstate traffic moves at 85+ on a daily basis, plus given that he wasn’t drinking AND almost killed himself in the crash, I’d say he has paid his dues. Maybe slow down a bit and get some more sleep but it’s not worth ruining this man’s career reputation over this…

    • Alan

      Leave him alone? Right. If this was an average citizen all of today’s charges would have been filed on the spot back in October. I have a career too, but the State Police would have thrown the book at me. It’s all been a coverup in my opinion. The state cops should be able to recognize a 100+ mph crash when they see one.

      Murray lied on day one, so any damage to his reputation is his own fault.

    • foamy

      Leave the guy alone? I suppose Bill Clinton really didn’t have sexual relations with that woman, Mr. Lewinsky? The guy LIED. On camera, in front of millions of Massachusetts residents. I’m sorry, but if there’s ONE thing we should demand in our elected officials it’s integrity – which starts with honesty. Mr. Murray has neither now, and it makes me wonder how many other lies he’s gotten away with. He acted like he was a teenager, not the guy that’s 2nd in line to run the state. And I don’t know what roads you drive on….but traffic does not move 85+ on a daily basis – unless you’re trying to get away with something.

      • sick of it

        I dont know where you drive every morning Foamy, but i drive down rt 93 and get passed like i’m standind still at 75 to 80 . So 85 + is pretty accurate to me. The troopers on the side of the road just seem to watch the go buy .

    • Kevin Mulcahy

      I agree with Brett; the news media should leave the Lt. Governor alone now. I do not believe there was any intent on breaking any of our laws. He is an honest, hard-working public servant who has told the truth as best as he could recall given the circumstances. He requested a breathalyzer test right after the crash and he was not under the influence. The explanation that he fell asleep makes the most sense and it would partly explain why the car accelerated the way it did. A sleepy driver’s foot bearing down on the accelerator as he/she drifts off to sleep would account for some of it. Anyone who has ever hit a patch of black ice and felt a car suddenly speed up and lose control can attest to this second contributing factor. His only mistake was not wearing a seat belt. We should all be happy that he was not hurt in the crash and no one else was either.

      • justme

        I would classify falling asleep behind the wheel , going 100 mph and wrecking a car as mistakes.

  • mikey

    I’m sorry, but this is a VERY dangerous precedent.

    To allow tickets and fines to be levied on the evidence of a non-certified black box… yeah, it showed he was doing 85. Then it showed him accelerating. At what point was he asleep? At what point was he willfully speeding and the fines assessed? His top speed? His awake speed?

    What’s next? Two people have a collision on the highway and one can now sue to read everything the other guy was doing before the accident and use that for a civil claim?

    I think this is a VERY ugly camels nose peeking under the edge of the tent

    GM started putting these ‘black boxes’ in just a few cars like the Corvette back in the 90’s, and they ASSURED people that the ONLY thing the data would ever be used for would be to enhance future air bag operations and other ‘safety’ features. Now we are going to have a nanny state that can look with detail at all our actions.

    Ok, this was a public official in a public vehicle. How about the public demand that EVERY police cruiser involved in ANY traffic incident have it’s black box read and made public? With fines levied as appropriate! We need to have a law…

    • P

      I’d agree with an open book policy on all public employees and public equipment.

  • Ken Martin

    Sounds like a State Police coverup – someone wake up Martha Coakley please

  • foamy

    So, should we be shocked that a politician has a problem with telling the truth? I wonder if anyone in the local media will come out and call him a liar to his face, because that’s exactly what he did if you go back and read the news reports from October. Mr. Murray – in the words of the great Congressman Joe Wilson – YOU LIE!!

    • petem

      Exactly what part of what Mr Murray said was a lie? I believe he thought that black ice caused him to go out of control and crash. Did his detail indicate anything that is inconsistent with today’s news?
      If you have a real point you should make it here. These stupid ad homonym attacks only reveal that you have no argument.
      And really, Joe Wilson? To bring that loser into any discussion about disgraces is pathetic.

      • Trey F.

        petem whines about ad hominem on this lying Lt. Gov. and then turns around and attacks Joe Wilson the same way. Typical double-standard cry-baby liberal democrat.

      • Hateliars!

        One lie he told was that he was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash. Once the black box was released, he quickly changed his story. How many other lies are there?

  • Ron T

    That could happen, I suppose, if one dozes off at the wheel, the vehicle could speed up, with the foot still pressing the accelerator!

    I still can’t figure how he escaped injury, not wearing the required seatbelt, when the car did crash, at that speed!

    You could tell, he was holding back some of that information, during his first statement, after the crash!

  • Chris

    Kudos for asking that the information be released and saying he should be held to a higher standard. Bad marks for initially lying about what happened. Further bad marks for his initially speeding, traffic conditions were obviously poor and 85 in a 65 zone in good conditions is illegal and dangerous.

  • eli

    yeah well just saying there are only a few circumstances when someone gets into a car accident at 100 mph and let alone lives but nothing broken one being more prominent then other. I dont wanna make any assumptions so ill let you think about the circumstances and decide.

  • P

    108,are you friggin kidding me?

  • sean

    definitely a cover up, they had the black box information the whole time and it wasn’t until they were forced to release it that they issued him a ticket. I used to have all the respect in the world for the Ma Troopers, but lately they are looking real bad.

  • Mark

    Asleep at the wheel – driving so as to endanger? Will he get points on his insurance? Why do they always lie? What else has he lied about and not been caught for? This guy is gonna run for Governor next election? Doesn’t promote a sense of confidence in his trustworthyness to me.

  • Jeff D.

    Anyone can fall asleep driving, but no one should be going 85 MPH and not wearing his seatbelt. He is a public official and he needs to live by the same standards as the rest of us. I am glad that he has come clean about this. I have just a little more respect for him now. He was very fortunate this time.

  • fred

    Asleep at the wheel pretty much describes most politicians.

  • Kathy

    For the State Police who arrived on the scene (they are supposed to be professionals in analyzing accidents) and let the ditsance traveled to be stated as within the speed limit by the LtG is a disgrace. They are not stupid and violated the public trust.

  • Irene

    A drunk phoned the local police department to report that thieves had been in his car. “They have stolen the dashboard, the steering wheel, the brake pedal, even the accelerator,” he cried out. However, before the police investigation could start, the phone rang a second time, and the same voice came over the line. “Never mind,” the drunk said with a hiccup. “I got in the back seat by mistake.”

    • Diane A

      Love that one Irene.

  • taxedout

    Another pol lying, I’m Shocked!!!!! He must have been dreaming about the Cut he got from his buddy in Chelsea, and the trip with the Gov to the islands under statie protection!!!Yeah this is a guy you want in the state house, or should I say Another guy like this in the state house!!! His buddy still backs him up, one lier, lying for the other!!!! TYPICAL Mass

  • ann

    No seat belt , crash at the speed of 85 miles/hr. How can some one walk away alive ?
    Hard to believe !

  • Kathy E

    I am getting beyond sick of these public officials using our money and resources and lying to our faces!! It’s reaching the point that I don’t believe any of them. This guy was also involved with the Chelsea Housing Dept. mess. Made sure his own were taken care of. Enough is enough!!

  • DoverDavid

    I know I’ll answer my own question here, but is this guy a total fool! If I drove a car in which I knew my actions in controlling that car were recorded, why would I not just fess up to what happened right after the accident?! He comes out and wants us to know he was not drinking, but to be asleep behind the wheel and without a seat belt, COME ON! So now he’s an idiot as well as a liar!

  • FireGuyFrank

    Wake up, Bay Staters, this is why Massachusetts is messed up. If Murray were a Republican, he’d have been forced to resign.

    But not when a Democrat in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts is involved.

    What was it that Jon Keller wrote about yesterday — you get the government you deserve?

    By the way, most new cars manufacturered today have a “black box” that We The People have not been told about.

  • response

    Do we not have a seatbelt law in MA? – doesn’t apply to our elected officials
    speed limits – do not apply to our local officials

    it doesn’t make sense that the black box was on for 42 minutes and he drove 30 miles? You are not looking at storm damage at 85 mph.
    The other thing that makes no sense – “Murray had said he was driving that morning to avoid waking up his wife and two daughters, to get coffee and newspapers, and to survey ice storm damage in the region”
    You can’t make coffee and get the paper and not wake everyone in your house up? You do not deserve to be an elected official…too stupid…
    Where was he really coming home from?

    • vb

      do you really think its ANY of your business where he was coming home from???

    • Chris

      He got a ticket for the seatbelt violation

  • big al

    108 mph who in there right mind thinks that’s ok. please

  • kburke

    I’m just plain insulted that this public official expects us to buy this excuse? And for the State Police – pulllease – if that happend to a law abiding non-official we’d have been thrown in jail at the time of the accident. Who are you kidding? Just stop insulting our intelligence will you??

  • xjma

    If a real person was determined to have fallen asleep at the wheel they get charged with driving to endanger.

    So are we just going to give this bum another state vehicle?? I vote to give him a ‘smart’ car and let him do it again!!

  • Mark

    He was driving so as to endanger “common folk” lose their license for this offense. He should also resign his position immediately. Lying to police is obstruction of justice. Also the state troopers involved in this cover up should be disciplined and forced to resign as well. Corruption at every level on this one. Massachusetts is well known for corruption this is a prime example. Aren’t we all proud!

  • Deval Patrick Doesn't Believe Tim Murray Lied About High Speed Crash « CBS Boston

    […] (CBS) – Now that the official information about Lt. Gov Tim Murray’s crash is public, Gov. Deval Patrick says “it’s time to move […]

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