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Man charged in crash that kills wife, injures son

QUINCY — A man with a checkered driving history was charged with motor vehicle homicide Monday after a crash involving the family car that killed his wife and critically injured his adult son.

Michael A. Rivard, 48, of 1173 Sea St., reportedly provided police conflicting accounts of the event that left his wife, Beatrice M. ­Rivard, mangled and pinned under the family’s green Lincoln Town Car, and his son, ­Michael Jr., hospitalized with internal injuries. The car careered from its Wall Street parking spot behind the family’s home, splintering a telephone pole and ramming into a wooden fence about 7:50 a.m. Monday.

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Rivard initially told police that he was in the driver’s seat of the car when it started moving forward and that he tried to stop it, but hit the accelerator instead of the brake, according to court records.

After telling the officer that his license “was taken away years ago,” Rivard reportedly said, “I can’t ­believe I just ran them over.”

But he told another officer at the scene that he was actually in the front passenger seat when the vehicle lurched forward and that he attempted to step on the brake but could not reach it because he was wearing a seat belt.

Rivard was arraigned Monday in Quincy District Court on additional charges of impeded operation, operating with a revoked ­license, and reckless driving. Judge Mark S. Coven revoked bail on a prior motor vehicle accident and set $10,000 cash bail on the latest case. A pretrial conference is set for Dec. 14.

A handcuffed Rivard walked ­into the courtroom Monday, slumped on a bench, and pulled the hood from his sweatshirt over his head. With a shaky voice, he answered, “Yes, sir” when asked by Coven whether he understood the charges. Rivard’s court-appointed attorney, Raffi Yessayan, told the court that Rivard was devastated.

“As a result of this accident, he lost his wife,” Yessayan said. “His special-needs son is in the hospital in critical condition; he wants to be with him. This was a tragic accident.”

The incident marked the second time in three months that the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole. On Aug. 1, ­Rivard crashed the Town Car into a pole, trapping his wife on the passenger side. She had to be extricated with mechanical tools. It was for that case that Rivard had his bail revoked Monday.

According to court records from the August accident, ­police said Rivard was foaming at the mouth, with white powder around his lips, his movements lethargic, and speech slurred. Rivard reportedly admit­ted to being on anti­seizure medication, oxycodone, and Percocet.

Yessayan said that Rivard is prescribed medications for seizures, pain, colitis, and Crohn’s disease and that he is unable to work or post bail.

An assistant Norfolk district attorney told the court Rivard is known to police and has a history of assault and battery, driving with a suspended license, and reckless operation. Rivard has a lengthy driving record dating to 1990, including several license suspensions and accidents, according to a state Depart­ment of Transportation spokesman. In September 2011, Rivard was deemed an immediate threat in Quincy and had his license revoked.

Police said a witness looked out her kitchen window Monday and saw Rivard sitting in the driver's seat of the 1994 Lincoln just prior to the fatal collision. The witness stated she looked away for a moment and when she looked again, the vehicle had crashed into the wooden fence.

Another witness told police he did not see the accident, but saw Rivard exiting the vehicle from the driver’s side. The vehicle struck Rivard’s wife and son while they were on the sidewalk. Police reports did not provide the ages of Beatrice and Michael Rivard. But a spokesman for the district attorney said Beatrice Rivard was nearly two decades older than her husband.

Brandon Bergstrom, a ­mechanic who lives on Wall Street, across from the rear of Rivard’s home, said Quincy firefighters asked him to use his jack to lift the car off of Beatrice Rivard, who was pinned face down, except for her head and part of her shoulder.

“You could tell her bones were broken,” Bergstrom said. “It was a gruesome sight.”

Neighbor Michelle Whalen said she was driving her two children to school Monday when the distraught husband jumped in front of her car, pleading with her to call 911.

“He was shocked. He was horrified. He was distraught,’’ Whalen said. “It’s an awful thing to happen to that family.’’

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com.

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