Hit-and-run driver sought by classic car owner injured in I-495 crash

Courtesy photoDanielle Vigneault of Methuen took this photo after a crash on Interstate 495 south late Sunday morning. Budd Van Lines box truck drivers pulled up behind the mangled classic car to protect the driver from oncoming traffic.   

LAWRENCE — Ralph Arabian is very glad two good Samaritans stopped to help him when he was in a car crash on Interstate 495 south recently. 

Now, he would like to know who hit his 1956 Plymouth Belvedere, resulting in heavy damage to the classic car and a hand and shoulder injury to himself.

Arabian, 82, of Andover, a retired mechanical engineer and self-described "car guy," was driving the Plymouth back from the beach around 10:50 a.m. on Sunday, April 25. 

It was raining and Arabian said he was driving carefully in the right lane at about 55 mph. Suddenly, a car passed him on the left, sideswiped him and caught the front fender and bumper. His Plymouth spun out and hit the guardrail. 

"I thought, 'Oh God, don't let me go over the guardrail,'" Arabian said, recalling the crash. 

"If I had ever gone over that guardrail, I would have been straight toast," he said. 

He ended up in the middle lane on the highway, with the front of the Plymouth heavily damaged. Two men in a Budd Van Lines box truck pulled up directly behind him in a safety move. 

"They stopped right behind me for protection," Arabian said. 

Whoever hit him, however, took off, Arabian said. 

State police have not been able to locate the other driver and video surveillance taken from the box truck did not pick up images of that car, he said. 

Arabian said he intends to repair the Plymouth, which he purchased just a year ago in Worcester. 

"You know there were a lot of people on the highway that could have seen that accident. I've got to believe somebody would have recorded the registration," said Arabian, who was left with broken bones in his right hand and a broken tendon in his right shoulder. '

Driver Neil Schubert said he was few cars behind and saw a "Cadillac SUV, an XT5 cut in front of the Plymouth." 

Schubert, in an email to The Eagle-Tribune, said he saw the Cadillac driver stop in the breakdown lane and then "take off." 

Arabian is hoping that anyone with information about the crash could email him at boatman177@hotmail.com

He said he was fortunate to be wearing his seatbelt, which he installed himself in the Plymouth at the suggestion of his lady friend. 

"That seatbelt saved my life," he said. 

Arabian previously owned a 1972 Cadillac, which he sold. Also, he built a 1929 Mercedes using a kit. He chooses Lexus for his modern cars and maintains them with impeccable care, he said. 

Last week, a picture of Arabian's damaged Plymouth and the Budd Van Lines truck was featured in an Eagle-Tribune article about a woman who was looking for the good Samaritans who helped that morning. 

William Byrom and Dawaylon Harris, Budd Van Lines workers, were later recognized by the company and given $100 Amazon gift cards for stopping the box truck and helping Arabian that day. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 

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