COPYRIGHT 2004 The Sun
Byline: Robert Mills
Jun. 8--LOWELL, Mass. -- A Lowell towing company received a civil citation and was suspended from state police towing lists yesterday in connection with a freak accident Sunday in which a trailer came loose from one of the company's trucks and killed another driver.
Stuart's Automotive, 117 Congress St., was given a $35-fine for "improperly securing" an 8-foot utility trailer that came loose on the Lowell Connector Sunday afternoon and slammed into the windshield of Jeanine Rodgers, 24, of Salem, who was driving in the opposite direction.
State police also issued an emergency suspension removing the company from the list of companies they use to tow vehicles from highways and accident scenes, said Sgt. David R. Paine Jr.
Rodgers was pronounced dead at the scene of the 3:45 p.m. crash at the Industrial Avenue interchange.
Rodgers had been heading outbound on the Connector when the trailer came loose from a Stuart's tow truck driven by Patrick Sheehy of Lowell. The trailer then crossed the median and became airborne before landing on the driver's side of Rodgers' windshield.
Paine said the suspension takes effect immediately and will remain in place until an investigation into the incident is complete. Such suspensions can be used when a variety of issues arise with companies, including safety concerns.
He said the suspension does not preclude Stuart's from answering calls from others who need to be towed, but that state police will no longer use the company.
No charges have been filed against Sheehy, though an investigation is still under way, Paine said.
Sheehy had picked up the truck from Interstate 495 south just before the Lowell Connector at the request of state police.
The trailer had already come loose from the back of a Ford Explorer driven by Lowell King, of Derby, Conn. State police were called to that scene because the trailer came to rest in the middle of Interstate 495.
Paine said it could not be hooked up to King's car again, so police had it towed away as King returned home. He said police are still investigating why the trailer broke free the first time.
A man who answered the telephone at Stuart's said company officials would not be commenting.
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