'I apologize': Accused drunken driver who struck Rockland Police Chief says he's sorry

Rockland Police Chief arrests drunken driver who hit him then fled scene

ROCKLAND, Mass. — A Rockland man who crashed into the police chief's cruiser at an intersection then fled the scene says he's sorry.

"I made a big mistake and I apologize," Richard Cirignano, 65, said only to Boston 25 News at his home on Monday.  "I'm glad no one got hurt. It bothers me right inside my stomach. It's so sour, thinking of it. I'm glad nothing happened to the chief."

Cirignano was arrested by Rockland Police Chief John Llewellyn, who pursued him after the crash on Saturday.

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"I thought I could make it home, I was a mile from my house ... I just want to go into a corner and cry," Cirignano said.

The police chief was driving down Spring Street in an unmarked cruiser after leaving the town's annual Holiday Stroll event around 9:40 p.m. Saturday. While driving through the Spring and Summer streets intersection, a man allegedly drove through a red light and struck the cruiser's rear passenger side.

Llewellyn said he tried to swerve to avoid the collision, but could not and ended up in the lawn of a nearby church. The chief and his passenger - his wife Susan - were uninjured.

"My fear turned into anger and to think he didn't even slow down when he got to this red light," Llewellyn said.

The driver that struck Llewellyn's cruiser was later identified as Cirignano, who sped away from the scene. When the truck drove off, Llewelyn radioed for backup, put on his lights and pursued Cirignano, eventually pulling him over about a half-mile from the scene.

Llewellyn said Cirignano had been driving under the influence of alcohol.

"There was no doubt in my mind," the police chief said. "Just from the smell and when I first spoke to him, I could tell."

Cirignano was arrested and charged with OUI liquor, second offense; operating a motor vehicle to endanger, leaving the scene of a crash, failure to stop for a police officer, failure to stop at a red light, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt. He says his previous OUI arrest was 30 years ago.

Cirignano was arraigned Monday at Hingham District Court, and his license is now suspended for 180 days.

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