Ruben Espaillat of Methuen, Mass., died Saturday, 10 days following the crash at Lynnway Auto Auction in Billerica, near Boston. He died at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Burlington, where several victims were transported following the crash.
It was not immediately clear if Espaillat was a dealer visiting the auction or an employee. A spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office declined a request for comment beyond its Saturday press release, while representatives for Lynnway could not be reached.
Espaillat is the second victim to die in the days following the crash, after the death of a 50-year-old Massachusetts man on May 10. Two others died at the scene on May 3, while one victim was pronounced dead later that day.
The district attorney’s office said the investigation into the crash, which also injured seven others, remains ongoing. It remains unclear what caused the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was being driven by an employee, to suddenly accelerate and hit several auction attendees before crashing through a cinderblock wall. An initial investigation ruled out the crash being intentional, police said.
05/04/17 Three people were killed at a Massachusetts auto auction Wednesday in what police believe to be an accidental crash.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan told reporters at an afternoon press conference that one man and two women were killed and nine people were hospitalized following an accident at Lynnway Auto Auction Inc. in Billerica, Mass., about 20 miles northwest of Boston.
Ryan said an employee, identified as a man in his 70s, was driving a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee in one of the auction lanes when it suddenly accelerated to “a very high rate of speed," striking numerous people before crashing through a wall. The crash occurred around 10:15 a.m. local time.
In a statement, Massachusetts State Police said the preliminary investigation revealed no evidence that the crash was intentional, though it is not yet clear what caused it.
Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, told Automotive News in an email that one victim is being treated for life-threatening injuries. The others have “serious injuries," she said.
Four victims were being treated at nearby Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Mass., a hospital spokesman told Automotive News. The others were transported to other local hospitals.
Ryan said there were “several hundred" attendees at Lynnway, which was holding its weekly dealer auction at the time of the accident. On its website, Lynnway calls itself the largest auto auction in New England.
A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police declined to comment beyond the statements it released. The Billerica Police Department and Lynnway could not be reached for comment.
“We are very saddened by today’s events at the auction. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected," Lynnway said in a post on its Facebook page.
A witness toldWCVB-TV in Massachusetts that a Jeep Cherokee suddenly accelerated in one of the auction lanes and hit several people before crashing through the building.
The driver “avoided the cars and went on to hit the people who were standing between the cars," Woody Tuttle, an employee at Lynnway, told the station. “Three [men] were on the ground being tended to. There was a woman who was crying, but she was standing up, and I saw two men on the ground who appeared to be dead."
Another witness told WCVB that the vehicle was travelling at speeds as high as 40 mph.
“We heard a bang or an explosion. It was almost like a bomb," Randy Miller, an auction attendee, told the station. “The whole place just went silent. There were people just lying on the ground — a horrific, crazy, tragic situation."
Lynnway is a member of the National Auto Auction Association, according to its website. Voicemails placed to NAAA President Jerry Hinton and CEO Frank Hackett were not immediately returned. Autonews