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Deadly Boston Fire Truck Accident May Have Been Caused By Brake Failure, Says Survivors

Investigators looking into the deadly accident involving a Boston Fire Department ladder truck driving through an intersection and ramming into a high-rise apartment building are examining the vehicle’s brakes. The focus on catastrophic brake failure as a possible cause for the fatal crash comes after reports from survivors that the fire truck’s driver frantically pumped on the brakes in an effort to stop Ladder 26 from flying down Parker Hill Avenue and crashing into the building that housed a computer learning center.

Four children that were working in the center at the time of the Boston truck accident suffered minor injuries and were taken to local hospitals. Fire Lieutenant Kevin M Kelley, who was riding in the fire truck’s front passenger seat, died immediately on impact. Two other firefighters in the backseat of the truck sustained minor injuries. Fire truck driver Robert Bernard O’Neill was released from Brigham & Women’s Hospital on Saturday.

Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser has ordered an outside inspection of the brake systems on 44 Boston fire trucks, which were made by the same manufacturer. While officials are careful to caution that nothing has been found yet to indicate that brake failure was the cause of the crash, the fire truck’s maintenance records indicate that the vehicle has had brake problems in the past.

In 2006, the truck crashed into another building. Fortunately, no one was injured. Also, following a routine inspection in October, a faulty brake hose was replaced.

Video footage from security cameras at different apartment buildings on Parker Hill Avenue showed that the truck driver could have slowed the truck down by purposely driving into other motor vehicles that were parked on the street. However, this could have caused injuries to others.

Fire union officials have complained in the past about poor fire equipment maintenance, including inadequate truck maintenance. The Fire Department board of inquiry is also expected to conduct its own probe into the fire truck accident.
Crash survivors fault the brakes, Boston.com, January 11, 2009
Boston fire truck smashes into building; 1 dead, Associated Post, January 10, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Fire Department – City of Boston

Labor and Workforce Development, Massachusetts.gov
Work accident injuries entitle the worker and his or her family to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. The victim and surviving family members may also be entitled to Boston personal injury or wrongful death recovery from liable third parties.