It wasn’t the kind of duty that brought police officer Michael Shea his decorations for bravery in the line of duty.
He was just directing traffic Thursday night about 10:30 p.m. – forcing two lanes of cars into one so Salem, Mass., utility workers could do their jobs on Tremont Street.
Without warning, a 1992 Honda Accord, driven by a juvenile illegal alien released by Border Patrol officers in Texas 10 days earlier, plowed into the 39-year-old Shea, leaving him with serious injuries.
The driver, 17-year-old Leila Lopes of Brazil, is facing charges of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and driving negligently.
Shea, who has been on the Salem police force as long as Lopes has been alive, was taken by helicopter to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
At her arraignment in Peabody District Court, Lopes was ordered held without bail pending an order from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Dressed in shorts, flip-flops and a bulky sweater, Lopes listened to the proceedings at her arraignment, but only spoke when she was asked if she needed a court-appointed attorney. “Judge, I have no financial means, no money,” she said through an interpreter.
Officials said Lopes entered the United States approximately 10 days ago with her father through the Texas border, and was subsequently detained by the U.S. Border Patrol before she arrived in Peabody. Lopes has no family in the community and told police she was staying with friends. She had neither a license nor identification when she was arrested and interviewed by police.
After striking the officer, Peabody Police said, she drove the vehicle several yards down the street before stopping. Shea was thrown to the sidewalk on impact and was unconscious, bleeding from the head when EMTs arrived.
Two fellow Brazilian women living in Peabody, who had never met Lopes before she showed up at the courthouse, said they would try to put together the bail money for Lopes if possible.
Salem Capt. John Jodoin said Shea is a decorated officer who in the past has been honored for his bravery. “Anyone who has ever had any contact with Mr. Shea comes away with a positive impression. He’s a very personable guy,” he said.