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Off-duty officer struck by suspected drunk driver to be laid to rest today

<i>WFSB</i><br/>Funeral services for Ben Lovett got underway Wednesday morning in the auditorium of South Windsor High School.
Funeral services for Ben Lovett got underway Wednesday morning in the auditorium of South Windsor High School.


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    SOUTH WINDSOR, Connecticut (WFSB) — A South Windsor officer who investigators said was struck by a drunk driver will be laid to rest on Wednesday. South Windsor police confirmed last week that officer Ben Lovett passed away at Hartford Hospital on July 13.

The wake for Lovett was held Tuesday evening.

Funeral services were set for Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the auditorium of South Windsor High School.

The crash happened on Hunter and Crystal Lake roads in Tolland around 1:15 a.m. on June 26.

Lovett and a companion were riding on a motorcycle when they were hit by a car being driven by 24-year-old Spencer Kraus.

Kraus failed a field sobriety test, troopers said.

State police charged Kraus of Ellington with operating under the influence, evading responsibility, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle and failure to obey a stop sign. A second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle charge was later added.

Kraus was released from custody and back in court on July 20.

Lovett joined South Windsor police in 2018, where he gained experience with criminal investigations.

“We considered ourselves very lucky to have him,” said South Windsor Police Sgt. Mark Cleverdon.

He later became a narcotics investigator and was appointed to a regional team.

In his short career, he also received recognition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Cleverdon said the department suffered two losses, losing an officer and a friend.

“From a personal perspective, you can’t replace a Ben Lovett,” Cleverdon said.

Wethersfield police on Tuesday offered condolences last week.

“Ben died [Tuesday] morning from injuries he sustained after being struck and seriously injured by an intoxicated driver, while off duty on his motorcycle, on June [26] in Tolland,” Wethersfield police said. “As fellow police officers, we grieve for Ben and are frustrated because this tragedy was entirely preventable,” Wethersfield police said. “There is no excuse for drunk/drugged driving. This senseless act ruined the lives of countless people and took the life of a beloved son, brother, and police officer.”

South Windsor police released a statement Wednesday about Lovett’s death.

Officer Lovett was hired by the South Windsor Police Department in April 2018 by Chief Timothy Edwards. After completing training at the Connecticut Police Academy in September 2018, Officer Lovett entered the South Windsor Police Department’s Field Training Program and subsequent probation period. During the training and evaluation period, Officer Lovett demonstrated himself to be pro-active, effective and a valuable team player. He was assigned as a patrol officer in the Operations Division where he excelled and grew as a new officer. In the spring of 2020, Officer Lovett was temporarily assigned to the Criminal Investigations Bureau. This was an experimental assignment to give newer officers exposure to specialized positions. Officer Lovett proved himself a capable apprentice. In May 2020 he tested for the position of Narcotics Investigator and was appointed to the East Central Narcotics Task Force, a regional team comprised of Manchester, Vernon, Glastonbury and South Windsor officers. Officer Lovett became a valuable asset to the team and continued to grow in his abilities and talents as an investigator working with the other agencies. Officer Lovett has received numerous letters of appreciation from the public, he is the recipient of the 2020 Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognition award, he served as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) within our department, a certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) member, and he held numerous investigation and narcotic training certificates. Most of all, Benjamin was a valuable member of the department, an easy going and bright officer, a friend and a coworker who will be greatly missed by his family at the South Windsor Police Department.

Lovett’s death is the latest loss felt by the South Windsor Police Department.

In 2018, Sgt. Matt Mainieri tried to break up a bar fight in South Carolina while off duty, but died hours later after being hit in the head.

Mainieri’s remembrance can seen outside the department, near Lovett’s memorial.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Ben and Matt are going to be looking over us as we move forward and we will never forget their legacy either,” Cleverdon said.

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