Police investigate wrong-way fatal turnpike crash in Charlton

Authorities know that when someone drives the wrong way down any road, the risk for danger to others is enormous. When a driver negligently drives the wrong way on a highway, the risk of injury or death becomes even more profound.

Law enforcement from the Massachusetts State Police barracks in Charlton learned of a potential wrong-way driver early Sunday in the westbound lanes of the Massachusetts Turnpike. A toll-booth operator alerted state police, who in turn began trying to close down westbound lanes in the area of the report in hopes of averting a potentially fatal car accident. Unfortunately, a short time later, a second caller contacted police to report a fiery wreck on the turnpike.

Law enforcement says that a 33-year-old Leominster, Massachusetts, man was driving the wrong way in Auburn when he caused a multiple vehicle wreck. The second caller told authorities that at least one vehicle had erupted into flames. Emergency responders say that a 66-year-old woman from New Jersey was killed in the fiery wreck—she was dead at the scene.

Authorities say that the alleged wrong-way driver survived the crash and will be facing charges, including motor-vehicular homicide. He was taken to a hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts after being placed under arrest. Police continue to investigate the wreck, including whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

At least two other accident victims were transported to an area hospital with undisclosed injuries.

The initial call reporting the wrong-way driver was fielded around 4:35 Sunday morning.

Head-on crashes on a turnpike with a wrong-way driver can obviously be devastating for victims and their families. As we have noted, safety officials say that roughly 60 percent of wrong-way fatal accidents involve alcohol. But, even when substances are not involved in an incident involving a wrong-way driver, suspicions of negligence may be raised. A criminal charge does not preclude victims of a negligent driver, or their families, from seeking justice in a civil proceeding.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Leominster man is arrested following wrong-way crash on the Pike that killed a New Jersey woman," Haven Orecchio-Egresitz, July 21, 2013