A woman was crushed to death in East Boston as she crossed the Meridian Street Bridge. The woman was holding on to one of the two plates on the lift bridge, according to city administration officials, when the plate closed on top of her.
One eyewitness, 47-year-old Waldina Garcia, said she could hear the woman screaming vehemently for help. She said she screamed over and over and although Garcia could hear her she could not see her.
Then Garcia said, as she wept, that she saw a gray hat fall from the top of the bridge. She continued to weep as she expressed how horrible it was.
Garcia said she walks across the bridge every day to get to her East Boston home. She said as she was walking towards the walkway for pedestrians she saw the blinking lights and heard the loud foghorn which alerts people the bridge is about to open.
This bridge, which is also known as the Andrew McArdle Bridge, connects East Boston to Chelsea. Garcia works in Chelsea at a sandwich factory and the bridge is her only way to get back and forth to work.
Police said it wasn’t clear whether the woman was coming from the East Boston or the Chelsea side at the time of her demise but Garcia said that she believes the woman must have been attempting to cross the bridge from the Boston side.
At the time of the accident a boat was traveling on the Chelsea River and the bridge operator lifted the bridge so that the boat could pass underneath it. It was not clear if the warning alarms and lights had already activated before the woman began crossing the bridge or not.
Garcia said at the time she began hearing screams she was the only pedestrian waiting to cross from the Chelsea side. She was at the gate about five minutes before suddenly hearing the woman scream for help.
Garcia saw at least two of the bridge workers rushing up the stairs alongside the bridge. She saw the Chelsea side plate go down but didn’t see anyone bringing the woman back. As the bridge’s plates began to rise the woman grabbed one of them and held on as she continued screaming and dangling over the cold water beneath her.
Emergency officials arrived to the scene a little before 12:30 p.m. but firefighters did not bring the woman’s crushed body down until 4:30 p.m.
Thomas Foley, Boston Police Detective Sergeant, said it appears to be a tragic accident. Foley said the bridge operator was not aware that the woman was on the bridge at the time the boat was coming.
The bridge operator immediately began lowering the bridge when the woman’s scream were heard. Even though the bridge operator attempted to help the woman, she was instead crushed by the plates. The bridge operator was so distraught the he had to be taken to the hospital for stress.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Dot Joyce, said the bridge operator has been placed on unpaid leave while the investigation is taking place. This isn’t an indicator that he did anything wrong, this is the standard procedure whenever an investigation is necessary.
Boston police homicide detectives will try to determine what exactly happen by the viewing the bridge’s video surveillance.
The bridge was rebuilt by the Department of Transportation in the late 90s. It is a vital connection between Chelsea and East Boston and is inspected by the state every two years.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)