EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 13, 2008

Our view: Four accidents highlight highway dangers

A rash of four accidents last week on Interstate 495 should prompt stepped-up traffic enforcement by state police in the area.

On Monday, May 5, a teenager police say was intoxicated and driving a stolen car hit another vehicle headed south on I-495 in Andover. The 1997 Buick LeSabre driven by Cory Scott, 19, of Salisbury ended up on the side of the highway while the Volkswagen he hit overturned. The driver of the Volkswagen, Walter Olivera, 38, of East Boston told a reporter he was not hurt. Police say aggressive driving caused the crash.

Tuesday, a Toyota Camry driven by Edward Manzi of Haverhill went off I-495 South in Methuen and flipped over, severely injuring Manzi. Witnesses say Manzi appeared to be driving nearly 100 mph when he lost control just south of the Route 110 exit ramp. The car hit a guardrail, knocked down part of a sign, went airborne, then flipped over and landed on its roof near a wooded area on the side of the highway. Police are investigating the cause of the crash.

Thursday, police say, a Jeep driven by Stephanie Masick of Danvers was proceeding up the on-ramp from Route 114 to I-495 North in North Andover when it hit the guardrail. Masick's Jeep then traveled across three lanes of northbound traffic before being hit by another Jeep driven by Carol Stankiewicz of Dracut. The crash shut down two lanes of the northbound side of the highway for two hours. State police are investigating.

In a fourth incident early Sunday, May 4, a Haverhill woman walking in the right travel lane of I-495 North in Methuen was struck and killed by a pickup truck. Police are investigating why Brandi Sullivan-Feole, a 27-year-old mother of three, was walking on the highway.

Four serious accidents in the span of just one week may be nothing more than coincidence. And it remains to be seen if there are any extenuating circumstances, such as medical incidents or mechanical failures in the vehicles, that might explain one or more of them.

But the accidents certainly stand as reminders that our highways can be dangerous places. It's important that drivers follow the rules of the road and obey speed limits. A heightened state police presence could help reinforce that message.

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