Greenfield cop to be arraigned in fatal car crash

  • Sgt. James B. Rode was driving 83 mph in a 30 mph zone, when he allegedly crashed his police cruiser into a car in Greenfield, Oct. 1, 2017. FOR THE GAZETTE/Paul Franz

For the Gazette
Published: 7/24/2018 10:25:05 AM

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield police sergeant has been charged with negligent motor vehicle homicide nearly 10 months after a High Street car crash killed one person and seriously injured another.

Sgt. James B. Rode will be arraigned in Greenfield District Court on Wednesday morning. Motor vehicle homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 2½ years in prison and carries a 15-year loss of license if convicted.

On Oct. 1, around 8:10 p.m., Rode left the Greenfield Police Department to respond to a call for an erratic operator near the Greenfield-Deerfield line, according to a press statement from the Northwestern district attorney’s office ahead of the arraignment.

Rode was driving 83 mph down High Street, in a 30-mph zone, when he crashed his police cruiser into a car turning from Sanderson Street onto High Street, according to the district attorney’s office. It is unknown at this time if the cruiser had deployed its blue lights and siren. The crash left the driver of the other vehicle, James Arcellana, 29, of Hinsdale, N.H., dead and his passenger with serious but non-fatal injuries.

“Our thoughts are with all those who continue to be affected by this tragic event, and I ask for patience with regard to this ongoing matter,” Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh said in a statement.

Haigh said in the statement, posted to the department’s Facebook page, that he would make no additional comments, to be “sensitive to the continued investigation and judicial procedures.”

Rode has been on injured-on-duty status since the incident and remains so, Haigh said.

In October, following the accident, Haigh said to the media that the department was opening an internal investigation into the fatal car crash. That investigation is still ongoing.

In January, Greenfield police were unable to update the public when the Recorder asked about the investigation. At the six-month mark in April, Haigh said of the investigation, “These, unfortunately, are exceptionally, exceptionally time-consuming and slow.” He added, “We’re just patiently waiting, even though it’s an exceptionally difficult situation for everyone involved.”

Now, the judicial process will start to unfold in court, when Rode is arraigned and some documents on the proceedings to this point become public.

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