Family of Highway Worker Killed by Alleged Drunk Driver Decries Police Blame Game

Family members of a Massachusetts highway worker struck and killed say the blame game has already started, and they feel as if no one is willing to take responsibility for his death.

"It's really unfair to my family to treat us that way," said Maureen O'Day, the sister of Tom O'Day III.

O'Day was killed by an accused drunk driver early Tuesday morning while in a work zone on I-93. There was no police detail on site as O'Day and his crew worked on marking pavement on the highway.

"They should never have been out there," said Bonnie Luthi, another sister. "My brother doesn't get another night, his nights are all over. Someone needs to take responsibility for this. It's awful."

State police say they were unable to take care of the detail and had asked Woburn Police to handle it. But Woburn officials tell necn they told state police they didn't have the resources, either.

Woburn police say they notified both the state engineer and the job foreman, and it would then be up to them to ask the Massachusetts Department of Transportation if they believed it was safe enough to work without a detail.

MassDOT tells necn they did approve the work because it was in what they call a low-risk area, and without a police detail, there were cones, warning signs and two trucks mounted with arrow boards.

MassDOT says it went ahead with the work, but opted to change its scope from covering a two-mile stretch "to focus on short segments in 'low risk' locations, such as the location where the crash occurred," said spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard.

Goddard said the on-site crew followed all the proper guidelines.

"You have a cone, how does that protect you [from] a truck? You need someone, a police officer, there," said Maureen O'Day. "To slow people down to prevent these things from happening."

O'Day's company, Hiway Safety Systems, said it's MassDOT's duty to determine the "risk" level.

"We have a contractual agreement with Mass DOT and operated pursuant to the agreement and pursuant to their determination the roadway work was in a low risk area," the contractor said in a statement to necn.

Hiway Safety Systems added that it does not believe it has the authority to take on the duty of hiring police details.

Contact Us