On Dec. 7, 2023, a hit-and-run crash took place on Totten Paul Road in Waltham. This accident caused the deaths of National Grid employee Roderick Jackson and Waltham police officer Paul Tracey. 

The man charged with this crime is 54-year-old Peter Simon from Woodsville, New Hampshire. He drove onto the worksite, between a National Grid truck and a backhoe, and drove straight into the trench where Tracey was directing traffic and Jackson was working. Multiple other National Grid workers were injured.

Simon struck multiple vehicles, in addition to Jackson and Tracey, before abandoning his pickup truck. Upon stepping out of his truck, Simon was confronted by an officer who had been called to the scene.He pulled a knife on the officer and proceeded to steal his cruiser. Simon then crashed the police vehicle before leading more responding officers on a chase on foot. He was eventually arrested. 

Simon faced 15 charges for his actions on Dec. 7. These charges included, two counts of manslaughter, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, armed robbery, leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury and death, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage, larceny of a motor vehicle, marked lanes violations and failure to stop. The court ruled to hold him without bail while he presented a plea of not guilty.

Simon then faced a dangerousness hearing on Jan. 25 in which his defense requested that he be released to home confinement with GPS monitoring. The reason was that Simon’s significant mental health needs could not be met in jail. The judge decided against this request, agreeing with the commonwealth that Simon needed to be held in custody. In an article by WCVB, Waltham Police Chief Kevin O’Connell stated, “I think the Commonwealth proved today that beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s a dangerous person and shouldn’t be out on the street right now waiting trial.” 

During this trial, Simon’s past criminal record was investigated and presented to the judge. In 2009 he caused a very dangerous and almost fatal vehicle crash, from which the victims suffered lifelong injuries, including total facial and jaw reconstruction surgery. Simon fled from police officers, who had fired several shots at him.

Simon pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness. He struggles with substance abuse and has been diagnosed with dissociative disorder. Following his trial for his 2009 incident, Simon was committed to a secure psychiatric facility in prison before being officially transferred to the New Hampshire State Hospital and released in 2015 after therapy and medication. A police report filed in 2016, stated that Simon threatened to kill a man by wrapping a power cord around his neck and stating “You’re gonna die now.” He also threatened to kill this man’s wife. When trying to flee, Simon smashed his vehicle into a fence. The following year he pled guilty to second degree assault, criminal threatening, disobeying an officer and an aggravated DUI. Simon’s next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 29.

Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracey served with the department for 28 years. Tracey received an outpouring of support from the entire Waltham and first responder communities. A wake with fireworks, mass, and a large funeral were held in his honor. On Dec. 15, 2023, hundreds of officers joined the Waltham community for a service at Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Church. Waltham schools were closed for Tracey’s funeral. He was buried at the Mount Feake Cemetery with police honors. Tracey was born and raised in Waltham and is survived by his wife and children in the same town. 

Roderick Jackson, gas operations technician at National Grid also had a funeral full of remembrance following the accident. Jackson was an athlete who had helped raise his three younger siblings. His family has stated that they plan to sue Simon for taking Jackson’s life. Jackson’s family has also stated that they have plans to create a scholarship in his honor.