EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 19, 2012

Methuen crash victim, 70, remains critical

By Brian Messenger
bmessenger@eagletribune.com

---- — METHUEN — A 70-year-old city woman remained in critical condition at Boston Medical Center yesterday, one week after she was struck by a car crossing Pelham Street, police said.

Manok Leach, a resident of the Methuen Housing Authority at 22 Mystic St., suffered a shattered pelvis, brain bleeding and other internal injuries as a result of being hit by a 2002 Toyota Camry driven by John F.J. Sullivan, according to a prosecutor.

Sullivan, 46, of 23 Laurel Ave., has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury. Yesterday, police Chief Joseph Solomon said Sullivan is not expected to face additional charges.

“We are awaiting review with the District Attorney to see if there’s more charges, but it doesn’t appear there will be,” said Solomon. “It looks like it was just an unfortunate accident.”

Sullivan hit Leach on Dec. 11 as she attempted to cross Pelham Street at Mystic Street at 5:36 p.m. Manok’s late husband, Richard Leach, was hit by a car in the same area six years ago.

Sullivan is a self-employed freelance writer and a former night news editor most recently at The Salem News. He was also a former editor at The Eagle-Tribune. He was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment in Lawrence District Court last week and is due back in court Feb. 13.

Sullivan told police he was driving west on Pelham Street after picking up his dry cleaning and initially thought he hit a deer. He then drove to the Methuen Police Department at 6:03 p.m. after realizing his windshield was cracked and his front right headlight was smashed.

In a statement to police time stamped at 6:13 p.m., Sullivan wrote, “I figured I might have hit a person because of the extent of the damage.”

Police found Leach lying, injured in the westbound lane of Pelham Street.

Witnesses reported seeing Leach fly into the air after she was hit. Another driver thought someone had tossed a garbage bag back out of a car, before realizing a pedestrian was hit and lying in the street, she told police.

During his arraignment last week, attorney Andrew Goldstein said Sullivan never saw Leach in the street. Goldstein said Leach was dressed in a black down jacket, jeans and gray shoes as she tried to cross Pelham Street.

Police said Sullivan was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash. Goldstein said Sullivan does not having a texting plan on his cellphone, nor was he talking on his cellphone when the accident occurred.

Goldstein said Sullivan’s driving record is nearly impeccable, with only one minor accident in 2011, but no speeding tickets or traffic violations.