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Connecticut state trooper avoids jail in alleged drunken crash

Sgt. John McDonald is expected to enter the state's alcohol education program, which would result in the drunken driving charge being erased.
Credit: FOX61
John McDonald

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — A Connecticut State Police sergeant who crashed his car in 2019 after leaving an off-duty retirement party, injuring a woman and her 19-year-old daughter, will avoid jail after a plea deal.

A state judge in Middletown on Thursday accepted the plea deal by St. John McDonald that will also allow him to enter the state’s alcohol education program, which would result in the drunken driving charge being erased. He pled nolo contendere.

He was sentenced to six months of prison with two years of probation for both assault 2nd degree with motor vehicle charges. Part of the plea involved no jail time which was suspended by the judge. He must perform 100 hours of community service and attend at least one victim impact panel.

McDonald said he had previous apologized to the victims but also offered his apology again in court.

The victims were not present; but released a statement through the victim's advocate in court.

They said this incident has "permanently and forever changed our lives..."

Authorities said McDonald had consumed eight alcoholic beverages at the retirement party at Black Hog Brewery in Oxford in September 2019 before getting behind the wheel of his car.

According to the accident report, McDonald crashed his car into another vehicle that had a mother and daughter inside. They suffered injuries while McDonald was taken away in an ambulance.

The first responding officer was approached by an EMT who was referring to McDonald when they said, "That guy is definitely hammered, he is not listening to me to stay out of the roadway."

Body camera video was obtained by FOX61 of the crash.

Both women filed a civil lawsuit against McDonald, state police, and the brewery.

In a statement Connecticut State Police said:

Today, the Connecticut State Police learned of the sentencing which occurred this morning in connection with the September 2019 off-duty motor vehicle collision involving Sergeant John McDonald in Oxford.

Now that the criminal aspect of this case has been adjudicated, the internal affairs investigation can be completed. Once the internal affairs investigation is completed, the administrative investigation will be sent to the Office of Labor Relations for administrative disposition in conjunction with the current collective bargaining agreement. John McDonald remains with suspended police powers since November 14th, 2019 and on administrative assignment, also in accordance with collective bargaining agreement.

Further information will be forthcoming once the administrative investigation has been concluded and the Office of Labor Relations in conjunction with the State Police have completed their review of the administrative investigation.

On Jan. 14, 2020, Lisa Conroy – the woman injured in the crash – and the brewery settled for $225,000.

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