EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 16, 2011

Lowell official dies in I-93 crash

By Jim Patten
jpatten@eagletribune.com

METHUEN — A Lowell city official died yesterday morning when the car he was driving struck a tractor-trailer truck parked along Interstate 93.

The victim, David McGurl, 57, of Arlington, was city treasurer in Lowell.

It was the first of two fatal accidents yesterday on Interstate 93. The second accident happened south of the Concord Street exit in Wilmington around 5:45 p.m., according to state police.

A preliminary investigation by Trooper Jeremy Sweeney said McGurl was traveling south on the highway just before 10 a.m. when his 1999 Cadillac Deville sedan veered off the road to the right just south of Exit 47 and collided with the rear of the tractor-trailer, which was parked in an emergency cutout of I-93.

"Preliminary evidence suggests the driver of the Cadillac never applied his brakes," a state police statement said.

State police said it was not immediately known why the driver veered off the road, but at around the same time they had issued a warning that troopers were responding to numerous spin-outs on Massachusetts highways due to motorists hitting puddles and slick areas caused by heavy rain.

State police said the tractor-trailer, a 2003 Freightliner, was parked in the cutout as the driver awaited his next load assignment. The truck is owned by Amrit Express LLC of Fotana, Calif.

McGurl was pronounced dead at the scene.

The right lane and breakdown lane on the southbound side at the crash scene were closed for two hours and 10 minutes to accommodate the rescue response, crash investigation, and cleanup.

"This came as a shock to all of us," Lowell City Manager Bernard Lynch said yesterday.

Lynch said McGurl had been employed by Lowell as city treasurer for three years. He was previously city treasurer in Winchester.

"Dave brought a tremendous amount of knowledge about municipal finance," Lynch said. "Beyond that he was a very easy-going guy. He will be very much missed."

He said McGurl had been on vacation and was on his way to work at the time of the crash.

Lynch said he believed McGurl was at a summer place he has in New Hampshire.

The second fatality involved a box truck containing two adult male occupants and a van containing three adult male occupants. One of the occupants of the truck was taken by ambulance to Leahy Clinic where he was pronounced deceased. It is unclear as to whether he was the driver or passenger, according to a state police press release.

The names of the men were not released last night.

State police did not provide further details on the accidents but initials reports said the truck had rolled over into the median.

One of the occupants of the van was also taken by ambulance to Leahy Clinic.

The southbound side of the highway was closed, causing significant backups going both north and south. All lanes of Route 93 South were opened at 7:45 p.m., state police said.