METHUEN -- The first time Eric Wayne was arrested and charged with driving under the influence last July, the veteran Lowell Police officer did not cause an accident nor personal injury, according to Lowell police.
Wayne's second arrest for DUI in Methuen early Saturday morning was, tragically, a very different story, Methuen police reported.
Wayne, 41, a well-known Lowell resident who had a cameo appearance in the movie, "The Fighter," was charged with being drunk and causing a head-on crash that killed 26-year-old Briant Paula, of Lawrence.
According to Methuen Police, at about 12:30 a.m. Wayne's 2013 Land Rover was traveling westbound on Riverside Drive; simultaneously, a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer, operated by Paula, was heading eastbound on the same road, also known as Route 110.
"It appears the Land Rover, crossed over the double-yellow line and collided with the Mercury Mountaineer," Methuen police sated in a press release.
Paula, of 673 Essex Street, Lawrence, had to be removed from the car using the Jaws of Life cutting tool, police said. Paula suffered massive trauma, and was pronounced dead at Lawrence General Hospital. The deceased driver's sister, Lois Paula, 24, who was in the passenger seat of Mountaineer was treated at Lawrence General Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, Essex County District Attorney's office spokeswoman Carrie Kimball Monahan reported. Wayne refused medical treatment.
Wayne was arrested and charged with motor-vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, a marked-lanes violation, and having an open container of alcohol, Methuen police said.
Wayne was being held on $500,000 cash bail, pending his scheduled arraignment in Lawrence District Court on Monday morning, according to Monahan.
Wayne, who lives in Lowell, was arrested for driving while drunk last year. He was arrested July 4, 2013, by Lowell police at the intersection of Lawrence and Rogers streets in the city's Back Central neighborhood.
Police Lt. Daniel Larocque, who stopped Wayne that day, said Wayne failed a field-sobriety test. Wayne then refused a Breathalyzer test at the station, meaning an automatic 180-day loss of license.
Wayne was placed on paid administrative leave, but was reinstated to his Lowell Police job in June, Superintendent William Taylor told the Sun on Saturday.
"This (Methuen crash) is very tragic, and my thoughts go out to the family (of Briant Paula), the young man involved in this fatal crash," Taylor said. "We're very deeply concerned, and that is our principal concern about the family."
Taylor assumed that Wayne "is going to be arraigned and placed on leave, and then we'll consult with the city attorney on how to proceed," the superintendent said. "At some point, if he is indicted on these charges, he could be placed on unpaid administrative leave. If it goes in that direction."
Despite Wayne's being reinstated to the police force in June, Taylor noted Wayne has not yet stood trial, nor been formally disciplined by the Lowell Police Department on his July 2013 DWI arrest in the city.
"That is still pending, both the criminal trial, and also we have not disciplined him on that yet, pending the outcome of the criminal trial," Taylor said. "It's been over a year since that incident, but any discipline that may, or may not, come from that would be pending the outcome of the trial."
Wayne had a cameo in "The Fighter," playing a Lowell police officer in the movie who arrests Dicky Eklund, Micky Ward's brother, played by actor Christian Bale, for disorderly conduct. It had been Wayne's late father, Gerald Wayne, who died in April 2009, after a battle with cancer, that made the actual arrest of Eklund, the Ward family said.
Eric Wayne has also has competed in both the Greater Lowell Golden Gloves and a North American Grappling Association contest.
Wayne's Facebook page lists him as a "boxing trainer at Micky Ward's Boxing Gym."
Earlier this year, the Sun reported on a crash that occurred on the Lowell Connector where an off-duty police officer stopped and provided first aid to an injured driver until the on-duty first responders arrived. Wayne was that off-duty officer.
Lowell Sun staff reporters Robert Mills and Lisa Redmond contributed to this report.
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