A Massachusetts woman is facing OUI and vehicular homicide charges in connection with a fatal highway crash that killed a tow truck driver on Interstate 495 in Andover on Wednesday night.
Shiina Dionne, 28, of Lawrence, was arraigned from her hospital bed at Tufts Medical Center in Boston on Friday afternoon in connection with the crash that claimed the life of 41-year-old Daniel Coady Jr. of North Andover. A plea of not guilty was entered on Dionne's behalf, and she was ordered held on $2,500 cash bail.
The Essex County District Attorney's office said Dionne has been charged with operating under the influence, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, motor vehicle homicide while OUI, speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and obstructing a stationary emergency vehicle.
Dionne's blood alcohol level at the time of Wednesday's crash was .03, well below the legal limit. But prosecutors said she was charged with OUI because she may have been impaired by something else and because of statements she made to police.
Her attorney, David Haynes, argued that she was driving erratically because of the slick road conditions at the time.
"This whole thing could have been avoided if you had slowed down and moved over for emergency vehicles and tow truck drivers," said Karl Green, a friend of Coady. "It's like losing a member of your family."
Investigators said on Wednesday that state police were at the scene of a two-vehicle crash on I-495 southbound at Interstate 93 near exit 39 when Coady, a tow truck driver, was standing next to the left side of his truck in the breakdown lane loading a vehicle onto his flatbed.
Police said a Pontiac G6, which was traveling southbound, struck an unoccupied BMW located in the breakdown lane before striking the left side of the tow truck and then the tow truck operator. The Pontiac became disabled in the right travel lane and was subsequently struck by a Hyundai Santa Fe, which was traveling southbound through the crash scene.
Authorities said Coady was taken to Saint’s Memorial Hospital in Lowell, where he was pronounced dead.
Another tow truck operator, a 44-year-old Lawrence man, who was on top of the flatbed assisting Coady, suffered minor injuries when he fell from the truck following the collision.
Judge Maurice Flynn ordred Dionne to undergo random screenings and abstain from using drugs and alcohol, and she is not permitted to drive. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for April 4 at Lawrence District Court.
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The investigation into the crash is ongoing.