ROCKLAND — On the side of the road, where broken glass and bent metal lay strewn in the dirt, friends gathered in tears. Just hours earlier, Patrick J. Sullivan, a 17-year-old senior at Rockland High School, died on this bend in a rollover crash after colliding with another car.
On a cold New Year’s Day, friends brought flowers to the scene, and recalled Sullivan as a talented, fun-loving spirit who would be deeply missed.
“He was the best kid I ever knew,” said Dennis McPeck, 17.
Sullivan was one of four people killed on Massachusetts roads over the New Year’s holiday.
On the Massachusetts Turnpike in Westborough, two people died and two others were seriously injured early Thursday when a pickup truck towing a boat trailer struck a Honda carrying five people.
The initial investigation by State Police indicated the 2002 Honda Accord’s operator was driving with a flat tire when the 2011 Dodge Ram pickup truck clipped it. The truck then rolled over onto the slower-moving vehicle.
The two people who died were identified by State Police as Clarice Felix, 18, and Dave Virgile, 27, both of Randolph. Gregory Marcelin, 20, of East Weymouth, and Monique Sheppard, 20, of Roxbury, suffered serious injuries and were taken to UMass Medical Center in Worcester. All four were in the Honda, which was driven by Bryant Brezil, 19, from Randolph, who had minor injuries, State Police said in a statement.
The driver of the pickup truck, Zachary Tucker, 24, Deerfield, N.H., was treated at the scene and released. The crash, which happened around 3 a.m., remains under investigation.
In Rockland, the high school’s hockey game against Silver Lake was canceled Thursday, and the high school opened its doors on the holiday for grieving students.
Alan Cron, the school’s principal, said Sullivan was an outstanding student, a hard-working student-athlete, and an active member of the school community. Friends said he played on the football, baseball, and wrestling teams, and planned to study criminal justice in college.
“He was a true student leader and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time.”
The crash happened around 3 a.m. on Beech Street, officials said. Witnesses told investigators that a Nissan Sentra was speeding alongside Sullivan on the wrong side of the road before the two cars collided and ran off the road. Seconds later, a third car rounded the curve and hit Sullivan’s overturned car. The Nissan came to rest against a tree.
The driver of the Nissan was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. The two passengers in the third car were not injured.
Sullivan died at the scene.
State and local police are investigating the crash.
A witness said Sullivan appeared to be driving at least 40 miles per hour on the two-lane road.
Heather Ludington, who lives in Abington, said she saw the car flipped over, and that people rushed to help the driver.
“It was extreme chaos,” she said. “I feel so bad for the family. I just can’t picture losing someone that way.”
Ludington came to drop off flowers at the scene of the accident, saying she wanted to pay her respects.
McPeck, 17, said Sullivan was a popular student, a good friend, and the funniest person he ever knew. “He was just a jokester,” he said.
The fourth New Year’s fatality occurred in Chatham, where a 22-year-old Longmeadow man, Garrett Gagne, died after being run over by a police cruiser early on Thursday, officials said.
In Groveland, meanwhile, a woman was arrested after she allegedly drove a car into a house Wednesday evening while under the influence of drugs, police said.
Krystyna Ewart, 46, was charged with negligent driving and operating under the influence of drugs, a second offense.
Around 8:30 Wednesday, her car crashed through a fire hydrant, continued through a fence, and crashed into the foundation of a house on School Street.
The occupants of the house were not harmed.
Ewart, who lives in Haverhill, was slurring her words and moving unsteadily, police said, and failed several field sobriety tests. She told police she had taken Valium or Xanax. She is expected to be arraigned Friday in Haverhill District Court.