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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Blizzard covers East Coast; Boston officer John O’Keefe passes away

Mel Berilo
Piles of snow sit after record blizzard hits Massachusetts. Photo by Mel Berilo / Mass Media Staff

Between Jan. 28 and Jan. 29, 23.6 inches of snow fell over Boston, tying the 2003 city record for the most snowfall in one day. The blizzard warnings expanded over 10 states spanning from New England to Virginia. The effects from the blizzard swept even farther, as Tallahassee, Fla., fell below 20 degrees for the first time in 20 years. 
A blizzard, according to the National Weather Service, is a storm that has snowfall and or blowing snow accompanied by winds of 35 miles per hour or more which impact and restrict visibility to a quarter of a mile or less for a minimum of three hours. The past nor’easter overachieved these qualifications.

The impact of this record-breaking nor’easter spread far and wide. However, the worst was located in New England according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which reported 100 percent of New England covered in snow with an average of 12.4 inches.

Particularly in Massachusetts, the heaviest snowfall occurred in Stoughton with 30.9 inches falling. The highest wind gust occurred on Cape Cod in West Dennis, with a gust of 81 miles per hour. By Saturday morning, 119,900 households were without power. The day following the blizzard, there were still 15,722 power outages as of 6:30 p.m.

Along with this dangerous blizzard came tragedy. On Long Island in New York, two men ages 53 and 75 died while shoveling snow. In Nassau County, N.Y., a snowplow discovered a woman dead inside her car, presumably from the temperature causing a medical episode. Also on Long Island, a man attempting to clear snow from his home fell into his pool and drowned early in the morning of Jan. 29.

Locally, in Boston, tragedy also struck. Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe was found outside of a Canton home early Jan. 29 and was taken to the local hospital and later pronounced dead. O’Keefe had served for the Boston Police Department for 16 years prior to his death. The house he was found in front of was “occupied by people he knew,” but little more has been revealed of his purpose for being there.  
According to David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk District Attorney’s office, O’Keefe “appeared to have been in the cold for some period and was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital. The circumstances of his death are still under investigation and do not appear to be definitively known.” 

After days of investigation into O’Keefe’s death, a Mansfield woman, Karen Read, is facing a vehicular murder charge and was arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 1. Accompanying her homicide charge are charges for manslaughter and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle collision resulting in death. Read, the reported girlfriend of O’Keefe, backed her car into the officer hours before he was found dead.  

The details in terms of motivation and contextual reasoning remain unclear, but Michael Morrissey, Norfolk District Attorney, claims more details will be revealed upon her appearance in Stoughton District Court on Wednesday, Feb. 2. What is known is that Read had driven with O’Keefe to Canton early the morning of Saturday, Jan. 29. 
Boston Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long released a statement regarding the lost officer: “John will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues here at the Boston Police Department as we send our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

About the Contributors
Sean Liddy, News Writer
Mel Berilo, Photographer