Monday, October 26, 2015

Wreck in Westport

"Westport man faces drunk driving charges in fatal I-195 wreck" by Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff   October 19, 2015

A Westport man was ordered held without bail Monday after police said he caused an alcohol-induced crash Friday that killed a 73-year-old woman on Interstate 195.

Robert J. Hansen, 52, pleaded not guilty in Fall River District Court to three charges stemming from the crash, including motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence, according to the Bristol district attorney’s office.

Geraldine Correia of Dartmouth was thrown from the vehicle she was driving and died after being taken to Charlton Memorial Hospital, the office of Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III said.

Hansen was erratic and belligerent at the Westport crash scene, police said in their report. He spat on attending officers and refused to cooperate with investigators, police said.

Police found several empty bottles of liquor in the car and observed a half-consumed bottle of tequila in the front passenger seat, the report said.

“I asked [Hansen] if he was the driver of this vehicle and he said yes,” Detective Robert Rebello wrote in the report. “At this time I could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. He had glassy eyes and was slurring his speech as well.”

Hansen was also taken to Charlton Memorial, where he refused a blood alcohol test.

Hansen has an open lewdness case from a 2014 incident in Taunton, and was free on bail. On Monday in Fall River, his bail was revoked in that case and a judge assessed a $50,000 cash bail on the new charges.

The revoked bail in Taunton means Hansen will remain imprisoned, said Gregg Miliote, a spokesman for Quinn. In the Fall River case, Hansen will next appear in court on Nov. 19.

According to state records, Hansen has about 10 driving infractions dating back to 1985, in Newton, Cambridge, Foxborough, and now, Westport.

In his report, Rebello said several witnesses approached police at the crash scene and identified Hansen as the driver.

One man initially pointed police toward Hansen’s vehicle when they arrived. Another witness said Hansen’s SUV was swerving in and out of traffic and it almost struck several other cars before hitting Correia’s Toyota Corolla, police said.

“We’ve been following you from Dartmouth!” the witness yelled at Hansen, according to the police report. The man said the SUV passed him at a “high rate of speed.”

Correia’s family could not be reached for comment after the arraignment.


Drunk driving takes a toll on everyone:

"Officials unveil campaign to boost safety at toll plazas" by Felicia Gans Globe Correspondent  October 19, 2015

State officials launched a public awareness campaign Monday to improve safety for drivers and employees at toll plazas across Massachusetts.

The campaign was sparked by the death of Bill Pappas, a 61-year-old toll collector who was killed by a car as he crossed an E-ZPass lane while taking a break at work at a plaza in Auburn in July, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said in a statement.

MassDOT is teaming up with the State Police to post public service announcements on overhead and digital message boards and to distribute speed limit reminders to drivers at cash-only toll booths.

“Highway safety is our highest priority at MassDOT, both for drivers, but also for the men and women who staff our toll plazas, 24-hours a day, year round,” MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin said in the statement. “This campaign highlights the need for drivers to pay careful attention to posted speed limit signs and other safety information when approaching and travelling through toll plazas.”

Before Monday’s campaign launch, the department had already taken other steps to improve toll plaza safety. Additional 15-miles-per-hour signs were “strategically located” ahead of toll booths, and pavement markings were refreshed, the statement said.

State Police have increased enforcement of speed limits at toll plazas. Since Aug. 27, more than 1,200 citations have been issued for E-ZPass lane violations. “Through this campaign, we hope to remind motorists that safety is paramount when traveling through toll plazas on the Turnpike, as well as the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels,” State Police Major Terry Hanson said in the statement.

“It is our goal that this campaign will prompt drivers to travel through toll plazas with an extra measure of care, and to raise awareness that the toll plazas are staffed 24/7.”

I thought they were going to replace them all with cameras and mail you your tickets, but not so fast, huh?