Officer credited with quick thinking in Boston Common crash

As a 60-foot tractor-trailer apparently lost its brakes while traveling through Beacon Hill Thursday, Boston police Officer Clifton Singletary was in the right place at the right time, able to halt traffic and warn pedestrians.

The vehicle traveled down Walnut Street, across Beacon Street, and down a set of steps leading to the Boston Common, officials said Thursday. No one was injured.


Singletary was in the area when someone in the truck yelled to him that the vehicle had lost its brakes, according to a police blog posting.

The officer rode his motorcycle to the intersection of Walnut and Beacon, where he halted traffic, including a tour bus filled with women and small children, saving dozens of people from a potentially dangerous encounter with the out-of-control truck, police said.

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Recounting his actions Friday, Singletary said he had been monitoring traffic on Beacon Hill when he was assigned the task of escorting the seemingly lost tractor-trailer to the expressway. But then, he said, the truck’s brakes gave out and it was rolling down the busy street.

“At that point I looked down the intersection and could see traffic,” said Singletary, 49. “I just remember screaming at people, telling them, ‘Get out the way! Get out of the way!’ ”

Singletary, who has been a Boston officer for 18 years, said he was able to stop the tour bus.


“I didn’t have time to think. I only had time to react,” he said.

Singletary heard the truck crash into the Common and checked to see if anyone was trapped underneath, noticing that the truck came within a foot of hitting a motorcycle.

“It was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time and getting the job done,” he said. “It’s just a good feeling knowing that you saved people.”

According to the blog post, after Singletary saw that he had stopped the tour bus transporting the children, he said to himself, “God was with us today. It’s a miracle that nobody got hurt.”

No major damage to the area was reported.

Trisha Thadani can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @TrishaThadani. Melissa Hanson can be reached at
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