EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 24, 2013

Facing motor vehicle homicide for September wreck

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — METHUEN — A Newburyport man has been charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligence nine months after his car crossed Interstate 495 south, striking another car and killing its driver, a Westford father.

Jeffrey Plante, 35, of 6 Woodman Way, #114A, was also charged by state police with negligent operation, impeded operation of a motor vehicle and a marked lanes violation, according to court papers.

On Sept. 21, 2012, Kurt Kelly, 32, was killed when his 2008 Toyota Camry was struck by the 2005 Toyota Corolla Plante was driving.

The Corolla left the northbound lane of the highway on I-495, hit a dirt median and went airborne into Kelly’s path, state police said.

Kelly, a 2004 graduate of Quinnipiac University, was the financial officer at his family’s company; Specialized Plating Inc. of Haverhill. He and his wife, Amy (Zimmerman) Kelly, had a four-month-old son Brady, according to obituary information.

The crash, which ultimately involved four cars, occurred about 3:30 p.m. just south of the Route 113 bridge over 495.

Kelly was pronounced dead at the scene by Methuen Fire Department paramedics. Plante also suffered life threatening injuries and underwent surgery after the crash, according to court papers.

State police recovered an iPhone belonging to Plante after the crash. On the phone were text messages “that appeared to indicate a concern for the well being of Mr. Plante,” according to court papers. State troopers assigned to District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office conducted a forensic analysis of the phone and “extracted the texts in question that we believed to be of concern,” according to court papers.

Police also spoke with Plante’s co-workers at Putnam Investments in Andover as part of their investigation.

Plante’s attorney, Ted Cranney of Andover, declined to comment on the case at this time.

Plante was arraigned on the charges on June 7 in Lawrence District Court and released on personal recognizance. He is due back in court on Aug. 27 for a pre-trial conference.

A state police report said Plante “lost control of his vehicle resulting in his vehicle running off the roadway and subsequently colliding in a head-on type collision with (Kelly’s vehicle) causing fatal injuries to (Kelly) and subsequently causing serious injuries to himself.”

A state trooper specially trained in accident reconstruction said in his opinion the accident was caused by “negligent operation.” Trooper David Timperio said speed did not seem to be a factor. There was also no evidence of mechanical failure or that roadway design or engineering contributed to the crash, Timperio wrote in his accident reconstruction report.

That afternoon, the crash brought I-495 traffic to a standstill for several hours during the evening rush. Both the north and southbound sides of I-495 were closed for 45 minutes to allow the medical helicopter to land and take off. The southbound side was closed for 3 1/2 hours for evidence gathering and clean up.

A Porsche Cayenne GTS and a black Chevy Equinox were also damaged in the crash.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.