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BOSTON -- Two state troopers serving as human shields for a motorist stranded in the westbound high-speed lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike Saturday night escaped death when an allegedly drunken driver plowed into their cruisers with his SUV.
Trooper Christopher Martin, a 10-year veteran of the department assigned to the Weston barracks, remained hospitalized last night at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with serious injuries, but was expected to pull through, said Trooper Eric Benson, a state police spokesman.
Neither the second officer nor the stranded driver were hurt.
``Everybody's going to be fine,'' Benson said.
Businessman Timothy Barletta, 41, of Dedham suffered serious injuries in the collision shortly before 9:30 p.m. just west of the Sheraton Newton Hotel. He was expected to be arraigned today in Newton District Court on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily harm, negligent operation, speeding and failure to use care in entering a restricted area because state police had blocked off the left lane for safety's sake.
Benson said both troopers were seated in their respective cruisers - Martin in the far rear - ``with all their emergency lights on,'' waiting for a tow truck, when Barletta, at the wheel of a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was suddenly upon them.
``The collision was significant,'' Benson said, ``and it sent (Martin's) cruiser spinning out into the middle lane. The Jeep lost control and went across all lanes and came to rest in the breakdown lane.''
The impact caused Martin's cruiser to rear-end the cruiser in front of him.
``The crash remains under investigation,'' Benson said. ``Even if (the officers) did see (Barletta) coming, it would have been quick. At highway speed, distances close very quickly.''
Public records list Barletta as a principal in several past and present enterprises, including Barletta Heavy Division, Naushon Marine and Wraith Automobile Racing.