SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — The mother of a Somerset woman, who was killed in a head-on crash with a police cruiser in August 2018, is pushing for change in her daughter’s memory.
The Bristol County District Attorney’s office said Hailey Allard, 20, was killed when her sedan crashed with a Somerset police cruiser on Route 138 in the early morning hours of August 10, 2018.
Somerset Police said the officer was responding to reports of someone breaking into a truck at the time of the crash. Allard was heading home.
She was rushed to Charlton Memorial Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
“My whole life has changed,” Allard’s mother Keryann Estrella said. “Some days are OK. Some days are not.”
Following the crash, the Somerset police officer was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and released. Somerset Police Chief George McNeil said the officer was then placed on leave for six weeks.
The Bristol County District Attorney’s office and Massachusetts State Police are investigating the crash. A representative from District Attorney Thomas Quinn’s office said they are waiting on more information from the medical examiner’s office before releasing the findings of their investigation.
McNeil told Eyewitness News his department did not take the crash lightly. He said the officer involved came back from leave on a part-time basis, and he eventually had to be cleared by a psychologist to work full-time again.
Regardless, Estrella said she is now pushing for change in her daughter’s memory — calling for police department policies to be streamlined statewide.
Estrella said she is calling for stricter policies to be put in place regarding how fast officers can be traveling – depending on the severity of the call. She also wants there to be a stipulation on which situations warrant the use of lights and sirens.
McNeil said his department’s policies have met accreditation standards for the last 11 years. He said every situation is different, adding that in the event of an emergency, his officers are allowed to exceed the speed limit, but are told to proceed with caution.
McNeil also said his department’s policies do not dictate a certain speed at which officers can travel. In addition, he said when they respond to certain scenes – like a suspected break-in – they are allowed to use a “clandestine” method and arrive without using their lights or sirens.
The chief said, in his opinion, speed was not the only factor in the crash, but said he is also waiting on the results of the state police investigation.
“When your policies and laws are generalized like that, you are assuming every single one of your police officers has the same discretion and safety in mind. That’s not true for any profession,” Estrella said.
While Chief McNeil acknowledged the crash was an unfortunate accident, he said the police department needs to move forward.
“We’re trying to adjust to this new way of life, but it’s not easy,” Estrella said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to get better. I don’t think it ever gets easier. You just get accustomed to living with it.”