Saturday, February 13, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Man(hole) Alive!

A woman died:

"Answers sought in manhole cover fatality on Expressway" by Laura Crimaldi and Nestor Ramos Globe Staff  February 12, 2016

A manhole cover at the edge of the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel came loose and flew into the air during the Friday morning commute, smashing through a car’s front windshield and killing the driver, an art teacher who was headed to her job at a Milton elementary school.

The stunning fatality raised unsettling questions about motorists’ safety and prompted the state to immediately inspect 500 covers for manholes, drainage systems, and electrical panels on area highways. The accident occurred on a stretch of highway traveled by some 100,000 drivers a day.

Crews clearing the crash appeared visibly upset, said Cathi Porreca-Leonard, who passed the accident scene Friday morning. 

It must have been a gruesome scene.

State officials were unable to explain what may have caused the cover to come loose from the street level framework where it normally would have rested, and were investigating how it happened. They would not say whether the emergency inspections had uncovered other problems.

Marc Breakstone, a Boston lawyer who has litigated personal injury cases involving manholes, said if the cover was not sitting flush to the road, it might teeter in its frame and damage it. 

It could have been the construction?

“I’m guessing the rear wheel or wheels of a heavy vehicle passed over the manhole, catching the exposed lip of the cover, and from the traction of the tire dislodged and caused the cover to become a projectile which flew through the passenger compartment of this poor woman’s car,” he said.

Robert Norton, another lawyer who has investigated similar accidents, agreed, noting it wouldn’t have been Caitlin Clavette’s car that caused the manhole cover to go airborne.

“There’s no way that can go airborne without a vehicle going over it, and it was probably a truck,” he said. “This poor lady — she didn’t dislodge it.”

Investigators plan to review surveillance video to determine whether the manhole cover was dislodged by another vehicle before it struck Clavette’s car.

State Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack described the fatal incident as a “very rare event.”

“They’re pretty hard to dislodge and even harder to get airborne,” she told reporters at the State House.

The manhole cover was last inspected in June 2014, officials said. At the time of the inspection, it “rated very good,” Pollack said.

The Transportation Department conducts inspections of hardware on the roads in the tunnel system every two years.

“There does not seem to have been any recent work that would have involved moving that manhole cover,” Pollack said.

The state had not received any prior complaints about the cover, said Jacquelyn Goddard, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department.

Pollack said she was not aware of any connection between the cold temperatures and the cover going airborne, but she said investigators would look into it.... 

What do they do, deflate like footballs? 

I'm not trying to be funny. 

This is a tragedy, and I just can't help feeling the corruption and corner-cutting putting that thing together contributed. 


Did someone come up out of the manhole and forget to put it back properly?

NDU: Officials complete inspection of roadway covers

Also see:

Funeral set for Milton teacher killed by airborne manhole cover

Teacher who was killed is remembered at funeral