NAUGATUCK— A driver with the state Department of Transportation was on multiple drugs when he crashed the tractor-trailer he was driving on Route 8 southbound at about 11:40 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, according to a state police report.
Eugene Casivant Sr. of Southbury, a 14-year veteran of the DOT, was at the wheel of a truck hauling an excavator to the agency’s Beacon Falls facility when he lost control and barreled through a guardrail near Exit 28, according to police.
The tractor-trailer careened down an embankment, stopping at the edge of the Naugatuck River. Witnesses rushed to his aid and state police were called to the scene. Casivant, 59, was taken to Waterbury Hospital with injuries.
Before the crash, Casivant “seemed a bit off,” a supervisor told police. He had been instructed to transport the excavator from the DOT’s Danbury garage to its facility in Beacon Falls. Instead, he drove to the agency’s Thomaston location, according to the arrest warrant.
As he began unloading the excavator, the supervisor informed him he was in the wrong town, the warrant says. He was redirected to Beacon Falls and it was en route to the correct DOT facility when the crash occurred.
Police obtained a search warrant for Casivant’s medical records and believe he was under the influence of opioids and a benzodiazepine, which is a class of sedative prescription drugs.
After the crash, Casivant admitted to an offer he had taken Percocet and oxycodone, which are both opioid painkillers. He had trouble maintaining his focus and had constricted and pinpoint pupils, according to the warrant.
Casivant has been on paid medical leave since the crash, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the DOT.
Casivant, whose title is “maintainer 4,” received $100,143 in 2016, including fringe benefits and overtime, according to CTSunlight.org. The DOT confirmed the base salary for his position ranges from $50,326 to $64,892.
The DOT is monitoring the status of Casivant’s commercial driver’s license. His CDL, which is required for the job, could be suspended or revoked if he were convicted of driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
In March 2003, two years before Casivant began working for the DOT, he was charged with drunken-driving after he nearly struck a police cruiser in Southbury, according to Republican-American archives. However, it appears the record was expunged, according to data from the state Judicial Branch.
When Casivant returns to work, the DOT will begin an administrative review of the incident. Nursick said the cost of the damage, including the totaled tractor-trailer, was $250,000 to $300,000.
The DOT likely will not be able to recover that money because it’s self-insured and Casivant was on duty at the time of the crash.
Casivant turned himself in to state police on May 2 and appeared in Waterbury Superior Court on Thursday. He is charged with failure to drive in the proper lane and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
He has not yet entered a plea and was released after posting $1,000 bond. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.