Pedestrian killed in Meridian Street drawbridge accident

The Public Works Department in Boston says that the drawbridge operator who was at the controls when a pedestrian was killed last week has been a city employee for 34-years. Many Worcester area readers may have heard reports about the tragic drawbridge accident. An East Boston woman was on the Meridian Street drawbridge last Tuesday when the operator raised the bridge to allow a boat to pass.

The city says that a 20-step procedure is in place for safety purposes whenever the drawbridge is raised. Officials also say that the 34-year-veteran worker is known as being conscientious. Nonetheless, something went horribly wrong Tuesday. The woman reportedly screamed when the bridge was lifted.

The drawbridge operator heard the screams and lowered the bridge. But, the woman was crushed when the bridge was lowered.

Investigations into the accident are underway. The federal government sent investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to look into the fatal accident. Law enforcement has pulled surveillance tapes for review, hoping to glean a step-by-step picture of what happened. Public works officials are also looking into what went wrong.

Pedestrian accidents typically involve a vehicle, such as a truck, car, or even a bicycle. Pedestrians can be exposed to great risk for harm on any Massachusetts street. But, the recent drawbridge accident poses different kinds of issues than many other forms of accident. Notably, when a public entity or worker is involved, the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act may kick in, providing unique legal issues for victims of an accident.

Source: Boston Globe, "Operator of bridge in deadly accident has safe record," Meghan E. Irons, Jan. 3, 2014