Driver in crash that took life of off-duty officer arraigned

Salem Crash

SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A man involved in a car crash that killed an off-duty Massachusetts police officer just hours after he had put in his paperwork to retire pleaded not guilty Wednesday to vehicular homicide and other charges, prosecutors said.

Juan Marinez, 26, of Salem, was driving more than twice the posted 25 mph speed limit and crossed into oncoming traffic before crashing into car driven by Salem Officer Dana Mazola just after 11 p.m. on June 25, authorities said.

Both drivers were taken to the hospital, where the 56-year-old off-duty patrolman was pronounced dead, authorities said.

Mazola had been to City Hall earlier in the day to start the paperwork for his retirement after a 31-year career, The Salem News reported.

Marinez was released but ordered by a judge not to drive. He’s due back in court April 22.

A voicemail was left with his attorney.

Mazola’s widow, Florene, said in a statement released following the arraignment that her husband is sorely missed.

“While we are thankful for the continuous support we’ve received from the community, the senselessness of this tragedy continues to devastate everyone who loved Dana,” she said. “Not a moment passes when he is not profoundly missed.”

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