An off-duty Connecticut state trooper who died in a head-on crash in Wolcott in February was driving under the influence with a blood alcohol three times the legal limit and she was going nearly 80 miles per hour just seconds before the crash, according to Wolcott Police.
The Naugatuck Valley Accident Reconstruction Team said Trooper Danielle Miller's cruiser and a 2004 Ford pickup collided head-on on Wolcott Road (Route 69) near Tosun Road around 8:48 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3.
Miller and the other driver were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries and Miller died as a result of those injuries.
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Police said the other driver, who knew Miller, just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He had seconds to react and swerved to avoid the head-on collision, according to police.
"He happened to be driving his vehicle when Trooper Miller went into his lane," Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens said during a news conference Monday morning.
Police said the other driver was forced to move from town because people jumped to conclusions.
" The poor kid had to move out of town. You know, people were calling him names, cop killer, things like that. He was just a victim in this," Stephens said.
Miller was going 79 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone four seconds before the crash and she was going 57 miles per hour at the time of the crash and her blood alcohol content was .24, police said Monday during a news conference about the investigation.
Investigators have closed the case because Miller was killed in the crash.
"We all make mistakes in life that have consequences. Unfortunately, Trooper Miller made a mistake, which she paid for dearly with her life. It's very sad," Stephens said. "It's a very tragic occurrence for everyone involved."
Miller was assigned to Troop L in Litchfield and was a member of the 124th Training Troop.
When asked if state troopers are allowed to drive their cars while off-duty, state police said troopers are allowed to do so if they choose to so they can respond quickly if they are asked to mobilize or respond to an incident.
They released a statement Monday morning about the crash.
“We are saddened by the emerging details of the off-duty accident involving Trooper Danielle Miller on February 3, 2018. The Wolcott Police Department investigation report revealed that Trooper Miller sustained fatal injuries while operating the vehicle at a high speed and under the influence of alcohol. Her car struck an oncoming vehicle. Fortunately, that driver was not seriously injured,” state police said in a statement Monday.
“As an agency, we mourn Trooper Miller’s passing. We also maintain a zero tolerance policy with respect to operating a state vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” the statement from state police goes on to say. “Trooper Miller’s death serves as a painful reminder of the dangers and the devastating consequences of impaired driving. The Connecticut State Police, as are all law enforcement agencies, steadfast in their efforts to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents along our roadways.”
The state police union said it honors Miller’s service but does not condone “her poor decision making that evening.”
“This incident should not be a reflection on the other men and woman of the State Police who risk their lives enforcing the law while protecting and preserving the lives of others,” the statement says.
The union statement goes on to say leadership “has and will continue to take steps to ensure incidents like this never happen again and we hope that Trooper Miller’s passing will serve as a cautionary example that may discourage other drivers from making similar decisions in the future.”