EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 2, 2013

Cause uncertain, victim unidentified after biker slams cab

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE – A young passenger in a cab involved in an accident that killed a motorcyclist Wednesday night says that the accident occurred when the cab driver ran a stop sign at a Bennington Street intersection.

“He didn’t even stop for the stop sign,” said the 15-year-old passenger, who was with her 6-year-old cousin in a Popular Taxi cab driven by Rafeal Hernriquez. The cab collided with the biker at the corner of Park Street in the Arlington neighborhood just before 7 p.m.

“(The cab was) in the middle (of the intersection) when the bike came through,” the girl said in a telephone interview with The Eagle-Tribune yesterday. “The motorcycle was speeding. He had the right of way.... He hit the car and he just flew off his bike. He hit the (street) really hard.”

She gave the same statement to police and her account was supported by witnesses cited in a police report, including Bennington Street resident Wilson Rosario, who said Henriquez backed up the cab from the intersection after the accident.

Henriquez told police he did not back up from the intersection, according to a report prepared by Officer Jaime Adames.

The contradictory accounts added to the confusion surrounding the accident, which includes uncertainty about the identity of the motorcyclist.

The police report said “a woman on scene” said the victim was the father of her child and identified him as Amaury Guzman. The same report said the man was Wilfredo Ortiz-Marrero of Nashua, N.H., an identity that Police Chief John Romero said was provided by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where was brought by helicopter and died just before or after arriving.

“He’s still officially unidentified,” Romero said yesterday. “We’re in contact with the Medical Examiner’s office.”

Romero said he would wait for a report from a state police unit that reconstructs accidents before deciding whether to bring charges.

A dispatcher at the Popular Taxi office at 83 Jackson St. yesterday afternoon said Henriquez, a Lawrence resident, could not be reached. Jose Gomez, one of the company’s three owners, would not comment on the accident.

The accident occurred three months after the City Council held up license renewals for the city’s 11 livery and cab companies until their owners attended a council meeting to answer complaints about rude and reckless drivers. One owner at the meeting provided Councilor Sandy Almonte with a list of rules he hands to new drivers, which reminds them to stop at stop signs and red lights.

Almonte could not be reached yesterday.

Police said the biker was headed west on Park Street when he collided with the cab, which was heading south on Bennington Street. Police blocked several streets in the Arlington neighborhood while the accident reconstruction team conducted its investigation.