Driver Pleads Not Guilty in Mass Pike Crash that Killed State Trooper

Authorities say David Njuguna was high on medical marijuana at the time of the incident.

David Njuguna

David Njuguna Photo by Christopher Evans / The Boston Herald via AP / Pool

A Webster man involved in a Mass Pike crash that killed Massachusetts State Police Trooper Thomas Clardy was arraigned on several charges in Worcester Superior Court on Wednesday.

According to the Boston Globe, prosecutors say that the driver, 30-year-old David Njuguna, was under the influence of medical marijuana when he slammed into the officer’s parked SUV during the fatal March 16 incident.

Njuguna, who appeared in court handcuffed and with casts on his arms, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of drugs. His bail was set at $500,000.

According to WBZ, four medical marijuana cigarettes were allegedly found in Njuguna’s car and he had a level of THC in his blood at the time of the incident. Prosecutors said that Njuguna did have a card to legally carry the drug. Njuguna, through his lawyer, denied being under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

“The evidence will show that the defendant was operating in an impaired state and in a fashion that endangered the lives and safety of the public,” Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey T. Travers said, according to the Globe. Massachusetts does not have a specified legal limit regarding what quantity of THC in the blood qualifies as an impairment. Instead, the state applies a “zero impairment standard” (any quantity is considered an impairment), which a March report from the state senate suggested makes it difficult for law enforcement to gain convictions, partly because blood tests can flag latent marijuana that isn’t causing impairment.

Family members of Njuguna told WBZ that he has no memory of the crash.

Additional charges brought against Njuguna include manslaughter by motor vehicle, motor vehicle homicide by negligence, negligent operation, and operating an uninsured vehicle. He will next appear in court for a pre-trial conference on June 30.