No indictment for trucker in Wellesley cyclist’s death
A truck driver with three decades of motor vehicle infractions will not face criminal charges in the hit-and-run death of a Wellesley bicyclist last August, Wellesley police said Monday.
Despite the efforts of police and prosecutors, a grand jury declined to indict Dana E.A. McCoomb, 51, who drove the 18-wheel truck that struck and killed bicyclist Alexander Motsenigos. Police said the trucker drove away after the crash.
The Motsenigos family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and his employer last week in Norfolk Superior Court, according to Carlin J. Phillips, the lawyer representing the family. The suit alleges that McCoomb, of East Wareham, was driving recklessly on the day of the accident and that his lengthy record of motor vehicle violations made him a dangerous driver who should not have been behind the wheel.
McCoomb has a seven-page driving history dating back to 1982. According to a Wellesley police report, by Aug. 23 of last year his license had been suspended 19 times and he had had six surchargeable accidents and several moving violations. Two years before the fatal accident in Wellesley, according to documents provided by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, McCoomb was required to complete a National Safety Council driver retraining program.
Motsenigos, 41, was riding his bike on Weston Road near the intersection of Linden Street just before 2 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2012, when he was hit and pulled under the truck.
Wellesley police and the Norfolk district attorney’s office sought to charge McCoomb with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, unsafe overtaking of a bicyclist, and failing to take precautions for the safety of other travelers, but a grand jury declined to indict him on any of the charges, according to police officials.
“The Police Department and district attorney felt that we had probable cause,” said Chief Terrence Cunningham of the Wellesley police. “We are clearly disappointed that the grand jury disagreed with that and came back with no bill. We felt that the operator of that tractor-trailer should have been held accountable for his actions that day.”
Wellesley police spent more than three months investigating the crash, according to a statement from the department, and presented the grand jury with more than 50 evidence exhibits as well as testimony from investigators and witnesses.
The grand jury, said Cunningham, is not required to explain why it chose not to indict.
With the grand jury’s decision, according to police, the criminal investigation is over, and the file is closed.
Phillips said the Motsenigos family is disappointed about the decision not to indict, but wants to move ahead with the civil suit.
“A civil case is imperfect, because you can’t turn back the clock,” he said. “They’re still grieving. They’re great folks and they’re trying to move forward with their lives, put things back together. Alex, by all accounts, was a wonderful, wonderful person. A wonderful father, a wonderful husband. It’s difficult to forget about or replace someone like that.”
Alex Motsenigos left his wife and 6-year-old son.
Motsenigos was training for a triathlon and was riding a specialized bike he had recently bought when he was struck, the Globe reported in August. He was wearing a helmet, police said.
The civil suit, which Phillips said was filed last week, names McCoomb, as well as his employer, the construction, excavation, and demolition company C.J. Mabardy Inc. and Truck Leasing Family Limited Partnership, which owned the truck.
The suit alleges that McCoomb recklessly and negligently tried to pass Motsenigos when it was not safe to do so, despite being familiar with the roads.
It also alleges that McCoomb was an “extremely dangerous driver who should not have been behind the wheel of a truck.”
McCoomb’s license was revoked indefinitely after the accident, according to the Registry documents.
Attorney Scott Tucker, who said he was representing all three defendants, declined to comment on McCoomb’s driving record except to say that at the time of the accident, the driver had a valid commercial driver’s license.
“He was a valid, duly licensed truck driver at the time of the accident, and that’s what the standard is,” said Tucker.
Tucker declined to comment on the civil suit or the grand jury’s decision, stating only that he was happy that McCoomb was not indicted on criminal charges.
In an Aug. 25 interview with police transcribed in Wellesley police reports, McCoomb told officers that on the day of the accident he was hauling crushed concrete from Cambridge to Natick, and he did not remember anything unusual about his drive through Wellesley. He said he did notice a bicyclist on Weston Road and later heard about the accident, but denied he was responsible.
“Oh, my God, there’s no way,” McCoomb said as officers insisted that he did hit the cyclist, according to the documents.
In a press release, the Motsenigos family asked for privacy and thanked the Wellesley police for their hard work.
“Based on the evidence gathered by police, if the truck driver had used even basic care in operating the truck that struck Alex down, the accident would have been avoided and Alex would be alive today,” read the statement. “Alex was a wonderful husband and father who will never be forgotten. The family misses Alex incredibly and wishes to continue to honor his memory by celebrating the wonderful gifts he brought to all their lives.”