Airborne Manhole Cover Kills Driver on Southeast Expressway in Boston

Boston Manhole AccidentOn Friday, February 12, a 35-year-old woman was killed when a flying manhole cover struck her vehicle on I-93 South in Boston, MA. According to CBSNews.com and other sources, the 200-pound manhole cover became dislodged near the O’Neill Tunnel just before 8 a.m., smashing through the windshield on the driver’s side of a Honda HR-V. The victim was later identified as Caitlin Clavette, an art teacher at an elementary school in Milton, MA.

The accident occurred on a stretch of highway used by more than 100,000 drivers a day and prompted immediate safety inspections of manholes, drainage systems and electrical panels on area highways. According to State Police spokesperson Dave Procopio, officials are still investigating what caused the manhole to become dislodged. Procopio stated that the storm drainage system involved in the accident was last inspected June 12, 2014, and that there was no indication it had been recently removed for maintenance.

On Saturday, Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials released a statement saying they found no major issues after inspecting highway equipment. However, the statement revealed that 65 of the 919 pieces of equipment inspected by MassDOT crews required some action. CBS Boston states “MassDOT District Office personnel have been asked to increase vigilance during the ordinary course of business in noting the status of pavement structures.”

This is the second recent driving fatality caused by an airborne item in Massachusetts. On January 26, a 26-year-old was killed in Lexington, MA, when an airborne tire struck his vehicle. According to data collected by the NHTSA, there were about 440 fatalities caused by roadway debris in 2010.

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March 3rd, 2016 | Posted in