Lowell police Officer Eric Wayne was charged with motor-vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol.Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting
Lowell police Officer Eric Wayne was charged with motor-vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol.

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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.

Wayne's second arrest for OUI in Methuen early Saturday morning was a very different story, Methuen police said.

Wayne, 41, of Lowell, was charged with driving 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 west on Route 110 (Riverside Drive) when it collided with a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer, operated by Paula, heading eastbound.

"It appears the Land Rover crossed over the double-yellow line and collided with the Mercury Mountaineer," Methuen police said in a prepared statement.

Paula, of 673 Essex St., Lawrence, was removed from the Mercury using hydraulic cutters. Paula suffered massive trauma and was pronounced dead at Lawrence General Hospital. His sister, Lois Paula, 24, who was in the passenger seat, was treated at Lawrence General for non-life-threatening injuries.

Wayne, who refused medical treatment, was 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 the Essex County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman, Carrie Kimball Monahan.


Wayne, an 18-year Lowell police officer, was charged with driving 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 and was reinstated to his Lowell police job in June, Police Superintendent William Taylor said Saturday.

"This 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."

Wayne "is going to be arraigned and placed on leave, and then we'll consult with the city attorney on how to proceed," Taylor 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 said Wayne has not yet stood trial, nor been formally disciplined by the Police Department on his July 2013 OUI arrest.

"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 2010 movie The Fighter , playing a Lowell police officer who arrests Lowell boxer Micky Ward's brother, Dicky Eklund, played by actor Christian Bale, for disorderly conduct.

It was Wayne's late father, Gerald Wayne, who died in April 2009 after a battle with cancer, who 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.

Staff writers Robert Mills and Lisa Redmond contributed to this report. Follow John Collins on Twitter and Tout @johncolowellsun.