The Price to Pay for Injustice


Commonwealth of Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Police Report

 



Pittsfield Police Report

PITTSFIELD POLICE DEPARTMENT

REPORT TO THE CHIEF

Date: 8-8-02 Incident: 02-17155

To: Chief Riello
Capt. O’Neil

Assignment:

On 7-18-02 I, Officer Bassett, was working as the Traffic Investigation Unit for my normal working tour of 1600-2400 hours. At approximately 1715 hours on 7-18-021 was sent to the intersection of North St. and Madison Ave. for a motor vehicle/pedestrian accident with injury. I responded to the scene from the station.

Observations at the Scene:

Upon arrival there were several patrol units at the scene directing traffic. It was raining heavy at the time of my arrival. There was an ambulance at the scene with the victim already in the ambulance. In the roadway there was an orange colored van with the name of a business on it. The name of that business was Central Heating Service. There was no debris in the roadway from the accident.
The owner of the van was at the scene. His name is Robert Smith and he lives at 48 Seymour St in Pittsfield, MA. Mr. Smith stated that his son, Robert Smith Jr., was driving the van.
I looked for skid marks and found some that led right up to the van. I measured the skid marks immediately due to the rain. I was able to measure the skid mark for the left rear tire as 53.3333 feet. The skid mark for the right rear tire was 54 feet. Due to the heavy rain the skid marks for the front tires were of no use. Those skid marks were washed away and could not be used.
At the scene were Officer T. Bowler, Officer Orsi, Officer Saldo, Officer T, Barber and Officer Bradford. Officer T. Bowler was talking to some of the witnesses to the accident, and Mr. Smith Jr., was in Officer Bradford’s cruiser.

Post Scene Investigation:

The driver of the vehicle involved, Robert F. Smith, Jr., of 120 Parker St., Pittsfield, MA was inside of Officer Bradford’s vehicle. Mr. Smith Jr. stated that he was heading south on North St prior to the accident. Mr. Smith Jr., stated that he saw Jason run into the crosswalk that runs from Madison Ave. east over North St. toward Lipton Mart. Mr.Smith stated that he tried to stop in time. It was raining at the time and Mr. Smith stated that the next thing he knew lie stopped and there was Jason lying under the van. It should be noted that Mr. Smith knows the victim of this accident. Jason Litchfield lived at 48 Seymour St., Pittsfield, MA. Mr. Litchfleld lived there with his foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith Sr.
I could not speak to Jason Litchfield at the scene. Mr. Litchfield was already in the ambulance and was not responsive. Mr. Litchfield was transported to Berkshire Medical Center by ambulance. At the scene I was able to take photographs of the scene, and they will be attached to this report.
I went and told Mr. Smith Jr., that I was going to have to go to the hospital to check on the condition of Jason Litchfield. I told Mr. Smith Jr., that I would like to meet him at the police station in a short while to give me a written statement I then went down to the hospital to check on the condition of Jason Litchfield.
At Berkshire Medical Center Robert Smith Sr met me there. Mr. Smith and I were sent to a room where we were met by Mrs. Smith and some employees of the DARE program, who were in charge of Jason Litchfield.
In the room Dr. Crowell, a Neurosurgeon, met us. Dr. Crowell stated that Jason had received a XXXXXXXXX in the accident and that he was in XXXXXXXXXX Dr. Crowd stated that a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Also he stated that XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Damage from the impact of this accident:

There was no damage to the vehicle from this accident.

Interview and Statement from the Operator:

On 7-18-02 at around 1930 hours, the driver of the vehicle in the accident, Robert F.Smith Jr., came to the police station and gave this officer a statement In his statement Mr. Smith Jr., states that at about 1730 hours, he, Mr. Smith Jr. was heading south on North St. Mr. Smith Jr. saw Jason Litchfield ran across North St. by Madison Ave. Jason was running in the crosswalk across North St. Jason was running from the Advance Auto side toward the Lipton Mart gas station. Mr. Smith Jr. knew Jason Litchfleld, due to the fact that he was his foster brother. Mr. Smith Jr. states that he immediately hit the brakes and the van started to skid and it didn’t stop. Mr. Smith Jr. states that he hit Jason, but that he did not actually see the van hit Jason. When the van stopped Mr. Smith Jr. got out of the vehicle and found Jason lying under the van.Mr. Smith Jr. states that Jason appeared to be unconscious and unresponsive. There was a person right at the scene with a cell phone and they said that they were calling the police.
At the time of the accident Mr. Smith Jr. states it was raining. He states it was probably raining for three or four minutes before the accident. Mr. Smith Jr. statement is attached to this report.

Interviews With the Witnesses:

Witness at the Scene:

On 7/19/02, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX came into the police station and gave Officer Marc Maddalena a statement. XXXXXXXXXX states that at about 1710 hours he was walking north on North St on the sidewalk past Carr Hardware. XXXXXXXXXX was looking up and he states he saw a kid walking towards him near Madison Ave. Just as he saw him, it started to rain harder. He then saw the kid turn left and start to run across the street. The kid was in the crosswalk. XXXXXXXXX did not see the kid stop and look for traffic before crossing the street The kid started to run and then he heard the impact. XXXXXXX did not actually see the van bit the boy. XXXXXXXXXXX states that the driver of the van was a larger white male. He was about 6’3", over 200 lbs, and he looked like he was in his early twenties with black hair. As the driver got out of the van, he was freaking out. The driver knew the kid that he had just hit. XXXXXXXXXXXX could not get the driver to calm down, so he told him to step to the side so that he would not be in the way. XXXXXXXXXXX statement is attached to this report

Witness at the Scene:

On 7/19/02, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX came into the police station and gave Officer Marc Maddalena a statement. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX states that about 1710 hours she was driving in her car south on North St., in the left lane. She states she was behind a red van. As she was driving, XXXXXXXXXX saw a kid start to jog across North St. from the auto parts store to the Lipton Mart. She was pretty sure that the kid was in the crosswalk. As she saw the kid she started to slow to a stop. She saw the kid stop and look for traffic before starting into the crosswalk. She then observed him running and the van was still going. She thought to herself, I hope the driver of the van sees him and can stop. She felt the driver of the van was not going fast because traffic was heavy at the time. XXXXXXXXXXXXX states the van and kid collided.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX states that she got out of her car and ran over to the kid under the van, She states that he was lying under the truck on his stomach. His head was towards the passenger front tire and turned to his left. While she was there the driver of the van got out and ran over to the kid on the ground. The driver was crying and saying the boy’s name. He kept saying, "Oh my God, Jason," again and again. There was only one person in the van that she saw. He was a stocky white male with short hair. The statement of XXXXXXXXXX is attached to this report

Witness at the Scene:

On 7/20/02 a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX came in to the station and gave Officer Bassett a statement. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX states that on 7/18/02, she was driving north on North St. She noticed up ahead a young person. She noticed that they were in the middle of the street and the road was busy, and that it was around 1700 hours. XXXXXXXXXX states that she is not familiar with the area. The main thing she noticed was that the person was in the middle of the road, looking in her direction, like he was looking to see when it would be clear to cross. She states she could see in back of him a large truck, she could not tell if the truck was moving or not. It had just started to rain. XXXXXXXXXXX states that it appeared that the pedestrian slipped, and he fell down. She stated she couldn’t believe that the truck was still moving. XXXXXXXXXX states that the kid slipped, was down, and the truck hit him. She states that the head may have hit the bumper when he fell. As far as XXXXXXXXXX could see, the tires didn’t run over the teenager in any way. The driver stopped and got out of the truck. The truck said Central Heating on it.  The driver got out and said "Oh my God", "Oh my God".   XXXXXXXXXXXXX stated that the teenager was sprawled in front of the truck with his head toward the west and his feet toward the east. XXXXXXXXX also states that the van did not appear to be going fast. XXXXXXXXX statement will be attached to this report.

Witness at the Scene:

On 7/20/02 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX came into the station and gave Officer Bassett a statement. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX states that at about 1700 hours she was standing at the corner of White Terrace and North St. Saw a white male walk up Madison Ave and stop at the corner of North St. and Madison Ave. The white male then darted across North St. He was in the crosswalk at the time. He got about almost to the middle and a red van came. The red van seen him and slammed on his brakes. The tires squealed and the kid slipped and fell because the pavement was wet. The kid was on the ground when the van hit him. XXXXXXXXXX saw the van hit the kid and the tires pushed the kid to where the van stopped.  As soon as the van stopped, the driver knew who the kid was that got hit. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX statement will be attached to this report.

Witness at the Scene:

On 7/19/02 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX came into the station and gave Officer Marc Maddalena a statement. XXXXXXXXXXXX states that he was in Lipton Mart having a coffee. He was looking out the window towards North St. He saw a kid about to cross the street from the auto parts store to the Lipton Mart. At the time it was just starting to sprinkle a little bit. XXXXXXXXXXX states he did not see the kid stop and look for traffic before he started to jog across the crosswalk. The kid got past the first lane, but as he jogged into the second lane, states he said out loud that the kid was going to get hit. XXXXXXX stated that he saw a red van driving south on North St towards the kid in the crosswalk.  In XXXXXXXXXXX opinion, the van was moving pretty quick. Just as XXXXXXXXXXXX stated that he saw the van hit the kid.XXXXXXXXXX states he saw the kid get hit standing up. He states that the kid went into the air and forward a few feet before hitting the front of the van again and then falling to the ground. XXXXXXXXX statement is attached to this report.

Witness at Scene:

On 7/19/02 a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX gave Officer Mcintyre a statement. XXXXXXXXXX states that on 7/1 8/O2, at about 1710 hours, she was driving her daughter to softball practice was traveling north on North St. She states she was just a little past A-Mart, when she observed a young male running up Madison Ave. The male was on the Can Hardware side of Madison Ave; he was not near a crosswalk. The male continued running and he ran right out into traffic. The male appeared to slip. The male did not fall gracefully; he went flat out on his back. It had begun to rain shortly before the accident. The road surface was wet. The male appeared to have gotten his arm caught under the wheel of the work van.  The contact seemed to have just pulled the male under the van and flipped him over. XXXXXXXXXX statement is attached to this report.

Witness at Scene:

On 7/28/02 a XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX gave Officer Marc Maddalena a statement.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX states that on 7/18/02 at about 1700 hours he was a passenger in a vehicle-traveling north on North St. He states that he saw a kid dart out into the road. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX stated that it appeared that the kid was running from the Lipton Mart towards the auto parts store. He states the kid ran in front of the van and that the van did not have time to stop. XXXXXXXXXXXXX statement is attached to this report.

Witness at Post Scene:

Officer J. Bradford of the Pittsfield Police Department left a report of his actions and observations. Officer Bradford states he had just cleared a call for service at 70 Union St. Alter hearing a dispatch for a motor vehicle/pedestrian accident he notified dispatch that he was responding. He states that the weather was cloudy and it bad just started to rain. Upon arrival he observed a victim lying under the front end of a van. The victim’s head was directly in front of the passenger’s side front wheel and that his legs were directly in front of the driver’s side front wheel. Officer Bradford observed Mr. Smith Jr., standing in front of the van. Mr. Smith Jr. appeared to be upset and distraught. Officer Bowler, who had arrived on scene just prior to Officer Bradford asked him to stay with Mr. Smith Jr. 
Mr. Smith Jr. was brought over to Officer Bradford’s cruiser. Mr. Smith Jr. stated that he was the driver of the van and that the victim was his foster brother. Mr. Smith Jr. stated to Officer Bradford at the scene that Jason Litchfield had just run out into the roadway in front of him. Mr. Smith Jr. stated that he was unable to stop in time and he hit Jason with the van. While in the cruiser Officer Bradford asked Mr. Smith Jr. how fast he had been going. Mr. Smith Jr. stated he believed he was doing approximately 25 MPH. Officer Bradford asked Mr. Smith Jr. if Jason was in the crosswalk and he stated yes.
Officer Bradford’s report is attached to this report.

Witness at Post Scene:

Officer T. Bowler of the Pittsfield Police Department left a report of his actions and observations of the accident scene. Officer Bowler was able to get the names of several witnesses. Officer Bowler states that at 1712 hours on 7/18/02 he responded to a motor vehicle/pedestrian accident at the corner of Madison Ave. and North St. Upon his arrival he observed a red van stopped in the outer lane of the southbound lane of North St.
Pinned under the van was a pedestrian. The pedestrian was unconscious and was covered with a jacket. All witnesses stated that the victim darted out in front of the vehicle and the driver of the red van had no chance. Two of the witnesses stated to Officer Bowler that they observed the victim slip and till just before he was struck by the van.. They were XXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX. A copy of Officer Bowler’s reports will be attached to this report Post Scene Interview:

Post Scene Interview:

Danny Roy gave Officer Bassett a statement. His statement has no immediate connection with the accident. He gave this officer a statement in regard to rumors that Mr. Smith Jr. was not driving the van. A rumor was stated that Danny Roy hit Jason Litchfield with another vehicle and fled the scene with another vehicle This rumor is just that, a rumor. There was no direct information or complaint made to this investigating officer. These rumors started due to another criminal case that was going on with Jason’s adoptive father. Danny Roy is Jason’s stepbrother. Danny Roy’s statement is attached to this report. Also two photographs of Roy’s car are attached to this report.

Post Scene Report:

Detective Peter McGuire left a report in regard to the review of this accident. There were rumors that the accident was not an accident. Detective McGuire’s report is a review of the accident and in his report he agrees that the accident was it tragic accident.
Detective McGuire’s report is attached to this report.

Placement of the Pedestrian:

The exact placement of the Pedestrian is unknown. There was no debris from the vehicle, or the pedestrian to determine where the Pedestrian was when the accident occurred. A placement of the Pedestrian for the Accident Reconstruction was in the crosswalk at 35.5 feet from the curb at the handicap ramp entrance to the crosswalk. This would of placed the pedestrian in approximately the center of the outside southbound lane of North St.

Roadway Description:

North St. is a public way running north to south in the City of Pittsfield. It is under the jurisdiction of the Pittsfield Police Department. In the area of the accident, North St. is four lanes. There are two lanes heading south, and there are two lanes heading north. There is no island or center baffler in the roadway where the accident occurred. The crosswalk where the accident occurred is a marked crosswalk. It has two white lines, and the center is colored blue. The area of the way in question is paved and free of defects.

Accident Dynamics:

The 1988 Ford Econoline Van was heading south on North St. The pedestrian was running up Madison Ave. in an easterly direction. The pedestrian kept running and ran into the crosswalk at the northwest corner of Madison Ave. and North St. The driver of the van observed the pedestrian and attempted to stop the van. The van went into a skid. The pedestrian continued to head east in the crosswalk. According to most of the witnesses the pedestrian slipped and fell backwards. At this time the van and pedestrian made contact. When Officer Bowler arrived at the scene the pedestrian was lying in front of the front tires. The head of the pedestrian was against the passenger tire, and the feet of the pedestrian were against the driver’s tire. The van did not run over Jason Litchfield due to the fact that the tires were skidding and not turning. The non-turning tires pushed Jason Litchfield along the roadway until the van came to its final rest.

On 7/20/02 Officer Marc Maddalena and I went to the area of the accident. We went to determine the drag factor of the roadway. We used a drag sled and scale. The scale was used to weigh the drag sled, and the drag sled weighed 39 pounds. The day of the test was a dry day. Officer Maddalena went to Carr Hardware and borrowed a watering can. Officer Maddalena filled the watering can up and brought it back to the accident scene. We wet the roadway slightly with the water. The majority of the witnesses stated that it was raining at the time of the acci4ent and that the rain had just started. We did ten different drag pulls and recorded them. The average drag factor came out to be .6640.
The minimum speed using the square root of 30 (a constant) times D (distance) times f (the adjusted drag factor) was determined. D was determined to be 54’, using the longest skid mark to error on the high side of speed. The square root of 30 times 54(D) times .6640 (f) equaled 32.7975 MPH. It was determined that the time to skid 54’ was 2.2487 seconds. Tins was determined by using Vo-Vf/32.2 X ft. The velocity at impact, which was determined to be 24’ into the skid, was 24.4570 MPH. The time from start of the skid to impact at 24’ was .5718 seconds. All of these equations are attached to this report.
It was determined that the pedestrian covered 35.5 feet from the curb to impact. For a 16-year-old male running and in the 5Oth percentile, the speed is 14.6 fps. Using t = D(distance)/V(velocity in fps), 35.5/14.6= 2.43 15 seconds. In using the 35.5 feet from the curb to impact and a 16-year-old male running and in the S5~’ percentile and running 16.9 ~s the following time was determined. 35.5/l6.92.1005 seconds.
In using the perception reaction time, the total time will be 1.6 seconds. The time of skid to point of impact is .5712 seconds. The total time from perception/reaction to impact is 2.1712 seconds.
The 2.1712 seconds is very close to the time of the 1 6-year-old male running and in the g5th percentile. That time was 2.1005 seconds. For a 16-year-old male running and in the 5Oth percentile the time was 2.4315 seconds. This is only a .26 seconds difference. These times indicate that this was going to be an unavoidable accident.
Mr. Smith Jr. stated that when he saw Jason run into the crosswalk he immediately tried to stop. To verify that Mr. Smith Jr. could see Jason a total stopping distance was determined. The total stopping distance required with a perception reaction time of 1.6 seconds, the drag factor of .6640 and the speed at 32.7975 MPH, the total stopping distance would be 130.9295 feet. This would bring the start of the accident for the van back to about 594 North St. At this point Mr. Smith Jr. would have had a clear view of Jason running into the crosswalk.

Injuries to the Pedestrian:

Mr. Litchfield was already inside the ambulance when this officer arrived. At the hospital I found out that Jason Litchfield sustained serious XXXXXXXXXXXXX at the scene of the accident. Jason Litchfield was pronounced dead from his injuries on 7/24/02 at 1500 hours at Berkshire Medical Center.

Officer Marc Maddalena and I went to the autopsy of Jason Litchtleld. Dr. Valigorsky performed the autopsy.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Speed Limit:

The area of North St. at Madison Ave, and to the north and south of this intersection is a business district.
The area is not posted, so under MGL Chapter 90, Section 17 the speed limit is 30 MPH.

Weather Conditions:

The day was a hot humid day. At the time of the accident it had started to rain.

Photographs:

This officer, Officer Bassett, took photographs of the vehicle and the accident scene. These photographs were taken at the scene and on the date of the accident.

Cause of Accident:

The conclusion of this investigation is that this was a tragic accident. Based on several witness’s statements, Jason Litchfield was running into the crosswalk. Jason’s foster mother, stated that Jason was on his way to get hamburger rolls far his dinner. It had just started to rain. The majority of the witnesses state that Jason was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident. Robed Smith Jr., the driver of the van, even states that he observed Jason in the crosswalk. Robert Smith Jr., attempted to stop when he observed Jason go into the crosswalk. Speed analysis was done, and time and perception analysis was done, and they all point to the fact that Robert Smith Jr., did not have enough time or distance to stop to avoid this accident. There was no indication of excessive speed. Under 720 CMR S9.09 (4) (a) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a sidewalk or safety island and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield the right of way.
In the statement of XXXXXXXXXXXXXX she states that Jason ran right into traffic. She states that the male had made it into the second travel lane and that he slipped. She states that the male did not fall gracefully, that be went flat out on his back. She states that it had begun to rain shortly before the accident. XXXXXXXXX also states that it looked like Jason slipped and fell down. She also states that it had started to rain already. XXXXXXXXXX also states that Jason fell and was on the ground when the van hit him. I had only one witness that states that Jason Litchfield was still standing when the van hit him. He states that he saw Jason get hit and saw him go in the air and forward a few feet before the van hit him again. It should be noted that Jason had no injuries that would substantiate that statement. It appears that the other statements were correct in that Jason had started to fall before being struck by the van.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
When Jason fell to the roadway, the van was already in a skid. Jason’s head came to rest in front of the front passenger tire. Jason’s feet came to rest in front of the front driver’s tire. Due to the fact that the tires were in a skid and not turning, Jason was pushed forward with the momentum of’ the vehicle. Jason was not run over by the tires.
Jason Litchfield was wearing sneakers at the time of the accident. The roadway was slippery due to the rain. Jason was in a hurry, either to avoid the rain, or to eat. Mr. Smith Jr. had just gotten done visiting a friend at Berkshire Auto at 48 Dalton Ave. Mr. Smith Jr. attempted to stop his vehicle in time to avoid the accident, but was unable to. The tires on the van were in excellent shape, and had plenty of tread on them. There were no indications of speed, negligence, or any error on Mr. Smith’s part.

Disposition:

No charges are being brought against Mr. Smith Jr. Under the Mass 720 CMR S 9.09 (4) Pedestrian Crossings and Use of Roadways. (a) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a sidewalk or safety island and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield the right of way. Mr. Smith Jr. could not yield the right of way to Mr. Litchfield. Mr. Smith’s actions showed that he did attempt to yield the right of way to Mr. Litchfleld. There was no excessive speed on Mr. Smith’s part All the speed and time analysis show that it was impossible for the driver, Mr. Smith Jr., to yield the right of way.As for Motor Vehicle Homicide MGL Chapter 90 S 24G the following would have had to been proved. Operation — The suspect must operate a vehicle; Public Way. Upon a public way, or upon a way to which the public has a right of access; and; Conduct The suspect must operate: While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotics, depressants, stimulant substances, or vapors of glue; or Recklessly so that the lives and safety of the public might be endangered; or Negligently so that the lives and safety of the public might be endangered. Cause Death. The driver’s actions caused the death of another person. The felony offense has the same elements as the misdemeanor charge, except that the offender must operate while under the influence and drive either recklessly or negligently.  The only thing that can be proven in this accident is that Mr. Smith Jr. was operating a vehicle on a public way.
Mr. Smith Jr. was not under the influence. Mr. Smith Jr. was not operating negligently or recklessly.

Officer Bassett