State Police are investigating whether speed was a factor in a car crash that left two people dead after their vehicle tore through a 100-year-old iron fence and plunged into the Charles River near Leverett Circle early Saturday night.
A metal barricade was erected to replace the missing section of guardrail and a more secure steel chain link fence was expected to be installed Sunday night, an official said.
The victims, identified as Brian Arcand, 36, of North Smithfield, R.I., and Rebecca Smith, 36, of Providence, were traveling in a 2010 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck on Nashua Street at about 6:40 p.m. when the truck accelerated from Leverett Circle onto Monsignor O’Brien Highway (Route 28), sideswiped an Acura, lost control, went airborne, and crashed into the river, said State Police spokesman David Procopio.
“We are investigating speed as a factor,” Procopio said in an e-mail Sunday. He declined to elaborate. “The ongoing collision reconstruction, in conjunction with witness statements, will help us determine the speed.”
The pickup truck Arcand and Smith were traveling in was one of several models that had been recalled by Toyota in 2009 due to unintended acceleration.
Procopio said that part of the State Police investigation will include an examination of the vehicle’s mechanical systems.
State Police are also looking into whether the fence should have withstood the impact of the vehicle said Troy Wall, a spokesman for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency that maintains the fence. A section of the guardrail fell into the dark river along with the truck.
Wall said the craggie-pattern iron fencing was approximately 100 years old and a visual inspection of the fence occurs several times a year.
Arcand’s family was mourning the loss of a man they described as a good father, and a person who always made people smile, and laugh.
A relative, who identified himself only as John, a cousin through marriage, said Arcand was celebrating his birthday and he and his girlfriend, Smith, were heading to a comedy show in Boston, one of his favorite things to do.
“He was always the light in the room . . . bright eyes and an infectious smile,” John said Sunday night.
“You could always find Brian on the floor being tackled by the children at family events. I, his family, and friends will miss him greatly.”
The driver of the Acura, identified as a 35-year-old woman from Milton, and her passenger, a 36-year-old woman from New York, were not injured in the accident, Sergeant Thomas Ryan, a State Police spokesman, said Saturday.
First responders from the State Police, Boston, and Cambridge fire departments, and emergency services came to the scene, said Steve MacDonald, spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.
A state trooper arrived within about a minute of the crash and the State Police marine unit arrived at 6:45 p.m., Procopio said.
The pickup, which was submerged in water, had landed on its passenger side. The wheels were visible when searchlights were shined on it, MacDonald said.
The victims were taken to the hospital with unspecified life-threatening injuries and later pronounced dead at the hospital, MacDonald said.
Firefighters broke the driver’s side window and pulled the victims out.
Emir Cerman of Brookline said he was visiting friends in the area Saturday night when he saw the streets were closed off.
“There were a lot of cops,” said Cerman gesturing toward the street and the river. “I came back an hour later and I saw the truck, wet.”
Information about accidents in the area was not immediately available Sunday.
But MacDonald said Saturday’s accident was the first he could remember in which a vehicle ripped through a guardrail and plunged into the Charles River.
“I can’t remember a vehicle going through the guardrail like that,” MacDonald said, adding that accidents are not uncommon in the Leverett Circle area.
“There’s always accidents at Leverett Circle . . . it’s one of the major intersections of the city,” he said, noting that people are often rushing to get to the expressway and the airport. “It’s a heavily traveled area.”
BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts State Police have released the identities of two Rhode Island residents who were killed when their pickup truck drove into the Charles River near Leverett Circle Saturday night.
Brian Arcand, 36, of North Smithfield, and Rebecca Smith, 36, of Providence, were pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital after being pulled from the water by rescuers.
Police say the 2010 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck they were in traveled through a red light at Leverett Circle and side-swiped a 2008 Acura MDX in the circle at about 6:40 p.m.
The pickup truck then drove off Charles River Dam Road and into the water across from the State Police barracks, becoming fully submerged.
Divers work in the Charles River on Saturday night. (WBZ-TV)
Witnesses couldn’t believe what they were seeing when the truck went in.
“All I heard was a horn going off,” said witness Chris Monzert. “I heard the impact, looked over (and) I saw that piece of (the) bridge over there just crumpled. (It was) one piece solid into water, and then the tail lights as the truck went over.”
The driver and passenger in the Acura were not hurt.
Authorities have searched the Charles River and do not believe anyone else was in the pickup truck when it crashed.
State Police say that speed is being looked at as a factor in the crash. The crash is still under investigation by police.