HAVERHILL — In the last few years, Mayor James Fiorentini's pet project has been planting trees — hundreds of them in inner-city neighborhoods.
From time to time, one of the trees was damaged by the weather or vandals. But before Wednesday, perhaps never had a tree from the mayor's program been damaged because of a collision involving three vehicles.
That's what happened when box truck travelling down a hill on Wilson Street just after noontime Wednesday went out of control, neighbors said. The truck hit a parked car, causing that car to collide with another vehicle parked farther down the hill. The car hit by the truck also crashed into some small trees planted by the mayor. One of the trees was destroyed.
The trees are on the west side of Wilson Street and next to a 7-Eleven store that faces River Street.
"I was there when he planted it. I was holding the shovel,'' said Gloria Mitchell of 219 Wilson St., describing the destroyed tree which had been planted by the mayor with the help of neighbors.
Mitchell said her car was parked in her driveway when it was struck by another car owned by her neighbor Angel Delafuente of 212 Wilson St.
Mitchell said the box truck hit Delafuente's Hyundai, which was parked. The Hyundai then traveled a short distance, colliding with a couple of the trees and striking the rear of Mitchell's Chevrolet Malibu, she said. Mitchell said the Hyundai continued moving and ran over one of the trees the mayor had planted next to the 7-Eleven. The car then stopped, she said.
"I don't know how this much damage could be done by one vehicle, but it happened," Mitchell said.
Neighbors said two other trees planted by the mayor were damaged.
Police said the driver of the box truck was transported to a local hospital for treatment of what appeared to be minor injuries. As of late Wednesday afternoon, the crash was under investigation, said Capt. Stephen Doherty, spokesman for the Police Department.
Mitchell said all three vehicles received significant damage. The box truck and Delafuente's car had to be towed away.
Delafuente said that after the collision he heard the truck's brakes may have failed before it crashed into his car, which was parked on the west side of Wilson Street and pointing downhill toward River Street.
He said his car, which was unoccupied, traveled down Wilson Street about 100 feet and then crashed into the rear of Mitchell's Malibu before running over the tree that was destroyed.