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Lowell Police Officer Charged With OUI In Fatal Methuen Crash

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METHUEN (CBS) – A Lowell police officer has been charged with drunken driving in a crash early Saturday morning that killed a Lawrence man.

Methuen police reported that Eric Wayne, 41, of Lowell was headed west on Riverside Drive in a 2013 Land Rover at about 12:30 a.m. when it appears he crossed the center line and crashed into a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer near the intersection of Strathmore Road.

The driver of the Mercury, 26-year-old Briant Paula of Lawrence, was trapped in his car and firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to reach him.

Paula suffered massive trauma and was taken to Lawrence General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Paula had picked up his sister from work and was driving with her at the time of the crash. The sister, Lois, was hospitalized and was in fair condition at Lawrence General Hospital.

Wayne, a Lowell police officer, refused medical treatment and was arrested on charges of motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, a marked lanes violation, and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, Methuen police said.

Wayne has a prior arrest on drunken driving charges in Lowell on July 4, 2013. He refused a Breathalyzer test in that case, resulting in an automatic 180-day license suspension.

Wayne was placed on administrative leave after his arrest in the 2013 case, which remains open. It was unclear if he is still on leave.

The officer made a cameo appearance in Mark Wahlberg’s Lowell-based movie, “The Fighter.”

His father, Gerald Wayne, was a Lowell police detective who died in 2009.

Wayne is being held on $500,000 cash bail pending his arraignment Monday at Lawrence District Court.

A friend of the Paula family remembered Briant fondly.

“He was the best. Very respectful for everybody,” said Alva Gonzales.

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