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Man killed in Lowell Connector crash

Another driver seriously injured in earlier wreck on Lakeview Avenue

The brick wall in front of the house on Gorham Street was in pieces Monday morning after a car came off the Lowell Connector and crashed into it about 5 a.m. One person in the car has died.
The brick wall in front of the house on Gorham Street was in pieces Monday morning after a car came off the Lowell Connector and crashed into it about 5 a.m. One person in the car has died. SUN / DAN PHELPS

LOWELL — A 28-year-old man was trapped in his vehicle after a collision on Lakeview Avenue late Sunday night and then flown to a Boston trauma center with serious injuries just hours before a 42-year-old man was killed in the latest deadly incident at the intersection of the Lowell Connector and Gorham Street.

The crashes, paired with a 2-alarm fire on School Street Sunday night, made for a busy 12 hours overnight for the city’s first responders. Fire Chief Phil Charron said resources were busy but not stretched too thin.

The first crash was about 11:25 p.m. Sunday on Lakeview Avenue near Fulton Street. That collision left two cars heavily damaged and a 28-year-old man seriously injured and trapped inside his car. Emergency radio broadcasts said the man was believed to have a broken femur as firefighters worked to free him.

Police Capt. Mark LeBlanc said firefighters used hydraulic tools to free that man before he was taken to a Boston-area hospital and stabilized. LeBlanc said the 28-year-old was alone in one vehicle, while the driver and only occupant of the other vehicle involved was evaluated on scene by EMTs but not taken to the hospital. That crash remains under investigation by the Lowell Police Traffic Division and no charges have been filed.

Just six hours later, at about 5:35 a.m. Monday, a 42-year-old man driving a white Dodge Ram pickup truck slammed into a brick wall at the end of the Connector on Gorham Street, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. That man was taken to a city hospital and later pronounced dead, according to a press release. There were no other vehicles or people involved in the crash.

That crash, which remains under investigation by the DA’s office and Lowell Police, is just the latest serious crash at the location, as well as the latest involving a wall that has been rebuilt countless times despite rumble strips, flashing lights, large signs, and numerous other safety measures warning drivers that the Connector is coming to an end. There are plans for more structural changes to the intersection in the works, but work on that project has yet to begin.

A motorcyclist suffered serious injuries last year when he crashed into the same wall while not wearing a helmet. In late 2016, a man and a pregnant woman were both hospitalized after crashing into the wall. And in October of 2014, a 32-year-old Dracut man who was the father of a 2-year-old girl died in a crash into the wall.

Even before the crashes at the end of the roughly 3-mile highway became a major issue, the short stretch of three-lane road was already extremely dangerous and a major target of police for years.

The Connector has been a major target of traffic enforcement for Lowell Police ever since the Nov. 3, 2005, death of Deborah Hornberger, 31, of Leominster. Hornberger and her unborn child were killed when a car that had been drag-racing crossed the highway’s median and landed on the car that they were in.

That crash occurred just one day after a report in The Sun identified the highway as the most deadly in the state mile-for-mile, and led to what were just the beginning of major safety improvements along the highways entire length.

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