Widow says police officer's death 'continues to devastate'

Paul Leighton, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.
·2 min read

Mar. 3—SALEM — The widow of the Salem police officer who was killed in a car crash last June said Wednesday that the tragedy "continues to devastate everyone who loved Dana."

"Not a moment passes when he is not profoundly missed," Florene Mazola said in an emailed statement following the arraignment of the man charged in her husband's death.

Dana Mazola was killed on June 25 in a crash on Jefferson Avenue just hours after he had put in his paperwork to retire after a 31-year career with the Salem Police Department. Juan Marinez, 26, of 4 First St., Salem, has been charged with both reckless and negligent vehicular homicide in the crash.

Marinez pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Salem District Court and was ordered by Judge Carol-Ann Fraser not to drive. The case is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on April 22.

In a statement sent out on her behalf by the Essex District Attorney's Office, Florene Mazola said, "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. Not a moment passes when he is not profoundly missed."

According to court records, Mazola, 56, was traveling northbound and Marinez southbound on Jefferson Avenue just after 11 p.m. Event data recorder information from Marinez's Ford Fusion showed that in the second before impact he was traveling 55 mph — more than twice the 25 mph speed limit.

When Marinez was interviewed by state police at Salem Hospital, he said he had looked up to see headlights and attempted to swerve to the right, but noticed parked cars so instead decided to swerve to the left.

But the data from the car's recorder showed that Marinez was traveling in a straight path until one second before impact when he suddenly steered hard to the right and hit the brakes. There was no evidence of him steering to the left.

The state police crash reconstruction expert concluded that Marinez's vehicle had gone into the northbound lane due to negligence, and that he was unable to pull back into the southbound lane in time to avoid colliding with Mazola's 2011 Toyota Corolla.

Mazola was traveling at 32 mph. The impact of the crash spun his car around and into the southbound lane, according to court records.

Mazola had just been to City Hall that day to start the paperwork for his retirement. Hundreds of people gathered on Salem Common for a procession in his honor on July 2. Then-police Chief Mary Butler called Mazola a "great officer, the one you wanted showing up to respond to a time of need and a time of crisis."

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at pleighton@salemnews.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.