Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

A new ordinance, The Act to Protect Vulnerable Road Users, could make the roads safer for local cyclists, especially during a Boston bicycle accident. If approved, all trucks over 10,000 pounds that are owned or contracted by the city would be obligated to install new safety features on their vehicles.

Among the added features are protective side guards, which should prevent a cyclist from getting pulled under a truck’s wheels during a Boston truck accident. Trucks would also have to install convex mirrors, which would make it easier for truckers to see more of the road. Meantime, reflective, bright stickers notifying of a truck’s blind spots would let pedestrians and bicyclists know that the driver might not be able to see them.

According to the Boston’s Cyclist Safety Report, between the Summer and Fall of ’12 alone, five Boston area bicyclists were killed. One reason for this is that there has been an increase in the number of bicyclists, which is even more of a reason to make sure that cyclists are getting the protections they need in the event of any kind of Massachusetts traffic crash. The rise in bicycle riders has definitely been enhanced by the New Balance Hubway, which is a bicycle sharing system that gives members access to bicycles located at more than 100 stations throughout the Greater Boston area. Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, who is one of the lawmakers spearheading the act, called the problem of inadequate bicyclist safety a “public health issue,” said The Globe.

A jury has awarded the family of 22-year-old Joe Kareta over $1 million in their South Hadley wrongful death case. Kareta died in 2011 when he was struck in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident. At the time, he was getting mail from the house of his aunt.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Kareta, Attorney Craig Barton, 46, was reportedly traveling approximately 80 mph in a 30 mph area. His vehicle hit Kareta hard enough that he was yanked from his sneakers as his body flew over 100 feet, striking numerous mailboxes, striking another vehicle, and a traffic sign.

Barton has already pleaded guilty to criminal motor vehicle homicide while operating under alcohol’s influence, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and another offense of operating under the influence in Kareta’s Massachusetts drunk driving death. He is serving 5 to 7 years behind bars. He did, however, leave jail so he could represent himself in Hampshire Superior Court during the Kareta family’s civil case.

According to Mont Vernon police, the driver accused of killing a man last week in a hit-and-run accident was texting just before the crash.

Travis Hobbs, 20, was charged with negligent homicide in connection with the crash that killed John Bachman, 71, on Monday. Hobbs told police he was texting and thought he hit only a snowbank. He turned himself in after seeing media reports about the crash.

The victim reportedly was getting his mail when he was struck. He was found injured in a snow bank and later died from his injuries.

Hobbs was arrested last Tuesday and released after posting $50,000 bail plus $1,000 cash. As part of his release, he is not allowed to drive.

Texting and driving accidents have become more and more prevalent as technology continues to be integrated into our daily lives. While Massachusetts has not passed legislation as strict as New Jersey, there are still laws against cell phone use in the car. In 2010, Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed a new law making it illegal for any operator to use a mobile cell phone or handheld device to manually compose a text message or access the Internet. The new law does not ban the use of cell phones to make phone calls, except to operators under the age of 18.

Any individual who is caught violating the law is subject to fines, and for those under 18, license suspension. Fines for this law start at $35 for a first violation and increase for any violations thereafter. First offenses for individuals under 18 include a $100 fine, a 60-day license suspension, as well as an “attitudinal retraining course.”
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Earlier this month, a pedestrian was struck and killed on I-495. According to WHDH News Channel Seven, this Haverhill collision happened around 1:30 a.m. on Friday, November 8th. The roads had to be closed for hours while first responders cleared the scene. No information has been released on the cause of the crash, which is likely still under investigation. Additionally, there is no information on whether or not any arrests have been made.

Pedestrian Safety

Keeping pedestrians safe is an important part of ensuring roadway safety for the entire community. The citizens of Boston and surrounding Massachusetts areas know just how important it is to keep walking commuters safe. Accidents involving pedestrians can be catastrophic. Pedestrians don’t even have the added protection of safety gear like cyclists wear. They are incredibly vulnerable when walking around or near roadways and intersections.
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A Gordon College freshman died in a car crash Saturday in the southeastern Massachusetts town of Lakeville.

Officials pronounced Monica DeMello, 18, of Middleborough, dead at the scene after being involved in a two-vehicle accident on Route 44, according to a statement from the Lakeville Police Department.

The other driver, Kathleen Allen, 23, of Middleborough, is scheduled to be arraigned in Wareham District Court on a number of charges, including drunken driving negligence, motor vehicle homicide, drunken driving with serious injury and negligence, driving to endanger, and a marked lanes violation. Emergency responders transported her unidentified passenger by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay wrote on the school’s Facebook page, “This is a tragedy and a shock to all of us, especially on the eve of Easter.” Lindsay said university officials will be talking with students to determine the best way for faculty, staff, and students to “celebrate Monica’s life and to grieve her loss as a community.” “May the blessed assurance of Monica’s place with our risen Savior be a comfort in these coming days,” Lindsay wrote.

A Facebook page created in DeMello’s honor now has over 900 members. The introduction page read, “We were blessed by such a beautiful person and the world is a better place by having her. You’ve earned your Angel wings Monica, now fly over us all and protect us.” Family, friends, classmates, former classmates, and well-wishers have all posted comments expressing their grief and shock at her death.

DeMello graduated from Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School, and formerly lived in Taunton, MA. Her mother and sister live in Middleborough, and her father resides in Florida.

Rick Sweeney, the college’s vice president for marketing and communications, said the school is planning “some opportunity for the entire campus to come together.” He described DeMello’s passing as a tragedy for her family and friends, as well as the other driver involved. The community will “remember her as a wonderful girl full of life,” he said.

Notifying the Gordon College community was challenging, Sweeney said, because students were off for Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. Students will be back on campus, where about 1,530 undergraduates live, this week.
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A former Middleboro High School teacher and boys soccer coach died in a car crash Saturday night.

James Braga was driving on Route 44 when his vehicle collided with another car just after 9:00 p.m. Officials pronounced Braga dead at the scene at 9:25 p.m., said Bridget N. Middleton, spokesperson for Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz. State and local police are investigating the accident, Middleton said.

Selectman Alfred P. Rullo Jr., who has known Braga since high school, said the news hit him hard. “He was a good friend. I’m going to miss him a lot. This is a tough one. Middleboro lost one of their good guys that’s for sure.” Rullo spent Sunday with Braga’s family. He explained that they were too grief-stricken to speak with the media. “It’s a nightmare. They need some time,” he said.

It appears that one of the cars was traveling west on Route 44 when it crashed into another car that was heading south on Everett Street, but Middleton refused to specify which car Braga was operating.

Three ambulances and a medical helicopter responded to the crash, according to police scanner reports. An unidentified man was also hurt in the crash, Middleton said. Emergency responders brought him to a Boston-area hospital for treatment, and he was eventually released.

Braga left behind his wife Kerrie (Mosley) Braga, three sons, Jonathan, 29, James, 36, and Keith 41, and a sister, Gail, who is living in New York.

Funeral arrangements have not been made, but the service will likely take place in Middleboro, Selectman Rullo said.

Selectman Rullo said he and Braga became friends after high school. They were part of a foursome that took an annual golf vacation to New Hampshire. “He loved to play golf,” Rullo said. Braga was a few years behind Rullo in high school, and served in the U.S. Air Force.

Braga taught high school business and coached the boys soccer team, taking them to the championship, Rullo said. Braga lost his teaching position when the business program was cut. He then went on to have a career inspecting older, urban properties scheduled for rehabilitation with federal money, Rullo said.
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An Andover, MA man was killed and two others were seriously injured in a head-on collision on Route 125 in Wilmington.

Robert Leon, 47, of Andover, died after the 2013 Toyota Corolla he was operating crashed head-first into a 2004 Chevrolet K1500 SUV. The Corolla crossed the center line, narrowly missed another vehicle, and then crashed into the SUV. Officials are still investigating why Leon’s vehicle crossed the center line.

The collision took place at around 8:30 p.m. on a stretch of Route 125 close to the North Reading line.

Wilmington and Andover Fire Departments arrived at the accident site, and used the Jaws of Life to free Leon from his car. Officials pronounced him dead at the scene.

Massachusetts State Police have identified the occupants of the SUV, but are not releasing their names. Officials believe that the 43-year-old man and 12-year-old boy, both of Wilmington, are father and son. An ambulance brought them to Lawrence General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Troop A of the State Police is investigating the accident with assistance from the State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section, Crime Scene Photo, Wilmington and Andover Police Departments, and Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Route 125 was closed for about 2 ½ hours when investigators and cleanup crews were on the scene.
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A head-on automobile crash left a mother and son dead and another man severely injured in Fitchburg Sunday morning. Michelle Martens, 36, and her son, Justin Fournier, 16, both residents of Ashby were killed in the 10:00 a.m. collision, officials said. Emergency responders brought Wayne F. Patenaude to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester with serious injuries, police said.

Martens and Fournier were traveling in a Kia Sportage that crossed over a marked lane on Route 31, hitting the Chevy Silverado Patenaude was driving, investigators said. Police are unsure who was driving the Kia at the time.

All three of the victims were connected to the fire department in Ashby, a small town in central Massachusetts. Ashby Fire Chief William Seymour Jr. said Martens was an EMT and third-generation firefighter, Fournier a participant in the department’s auxiliary program, and Patenaude a volunteer EMT with the department. “It still seems like it’s a nightmare,” Seymour said.

Peter McMurray, chairman of the Ashby Board of Selectmen, said of the deaths “it was a shock.” “We’re a small town, and everyone knew her through her father and grandfather. Everyone’s taking it pretty hard.” McMurray said he had worked alongside Martens many times.

The Ashby Fire Department held a meeting on Sunday morning to inform first responders of Martens’ death, McMurray said. “I think everybody will think about her for quite a while,” he said.

Perenaude suffered injuries to his head and right arm, and had a crushed right heel, Seymour said. He was expected to remain hospitalized overnight, according to the district attorney’s office.

Police said they are investigating if weather played a role in the accident. “The road was extremely slippery at that time this morning and it’s just too bad to start off a Sunday morning that way,” said fire deputy John Curran.
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Officials decided not to file criminal charges against a truck driver who struck and killed a bicyclist, so now the deceased’s family is filing a lawsuit against the driver.

Alex Motsenigos, 41, was riding his bike on Weston Road on August 24 when an 18-wheel dump trailer him him. Emergency responders transported him to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. “Alex was a wonderful husband and father who will never be forgotten. The family misses Alex incredibly and wishes to continue to honor his memory by celebrating the wonderful gifts he brought to all their lives,” the family said in a statement.

The grand jury announced Monday that it wouldn’t bring charges against the truck driver, Dana McCoomb of East Wareham, triggering the victim’s family to file the lawsuit in Norfolk Superior Court against the driver and his employer. “If the truck driver had used even basic care in operating the truck hat struck Alex down, the accident would have been avoided and Alex would be alive today,” lawyers for the family said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges McCoomb has a history of driving violations. “His driving record demonstrated numerous driving violations which should have put Mabardy and Truck Leasing on notice McCoomb was an extremely dangerous driver who should not have been behind the wheel of a truck,” the lawsuit reads.

Records from the Registry of Motor Vehicles show that since 1982, McCoomb has received 26 moving violations, 11 of which were for speeding and seven for surchargeable accidents. Two of them occurred in the 12 months leading up to the fatal collision in Wellesley.

The lawsuit also questions the condition of the truck itself, arguing that the horn wasn’t functioning correctly, based on information from the police investigation.

Investigators questioned McCoomb about the incident, his past driving record, and whether he intentionally hit Motsenigos. According to the police report, McCoomb told investigators that he was aware of the incident, but “I didn’t hit him. That’s for sure. I know damn well I didn’t.”

A lawyer for Mabardy said McCoomb was properly licensed.
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A chartered bus carrying high school students and their adult chaperones crashed into a bridge in Boston, injuring more than 30 people, said Massachusetts State Police.

The accident happened Saturday night as the Destined for a Dream Foundation group was returning to the Philadelphia area after visiting Harvard University.

Boston EMS reported injuries to 34 people, with one person hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and three others seriously injured. The other passengers sustained minor injuries.

Authorities are investigating the incident, and have not charged the driver, Samuel J. Jackson, 66, of Philadelphia as of Sunday evening, said David Procopio, spokesman for the State Police. Bus owner Raymond Talmedge said police are interviewing Jackson, who apparently didn’t see a sign banning vehicles from that particular route.

Authorities are examining the bus, and a collision reconstruction team is working on a report that will take up to six weeks to finish, Procopio said.

Jackson may have been checking his GPS at the time of the accident, said Talmadge. “He said he looked at the GPS, looked down to make the turn, and when he looked back up, the bridge was a low bridge. He hit the low bridge,” Talmadge told ABC-6 TV in Philadelphia. Jackson has not yet commented on the incident.

Mary Slayton of Bistol, Pennsylvania, said her nephew, a student, and her sister, a chaperone, were on the bus when the accident occurred. He escaped without injury, but her sister is hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s after severe injury to her neck, spine, and head. She might have to stay at the hospital for a week. “She’s not doing well,” Slayton said. “She’s a little out of it.

The Destined for a Dream Foundation’s website states that the group offers educational and athletic programs to underprivileged students. Jeff Neal, a Harvard spokesman, said that the Philadelphia area students toured the Harvard campus on Sunday afternoon, led by staff in the Harvard Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program of the university’s admissions office.

The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts is housing family members of some of the injured passengers in local hotels, and providing mental health specialists, said spokeswoman Kat Powers.
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