Mother, 36, and son, 16, killed in two-car crash in Fitchburg; cause under investigation

A volunteer firefighter and EMT for the town of Ashby and her 16-year-old son were killed in a two-car crash Sunday morning in Fitchburg.

Michelle Martens, 36, and her son, Justin Fournier, 16, were in a Kia Sportage when the car crossed a marked lane on Route 31 and collided with a Chevrolet Silverado, according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early 2d’s office.

The driver of the Silverado, Wayne F. Patenaude, was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, where he was expected to remain overnight, according to the district attorney’s office. His condition was unclear. The incident is being investigated by Early’s office along with State Police and Fitchburg police.


Investigators have not yet determined who was driving the Kia when it collided with the Chevrolet around 10 a.m. and the cause of the crash, officials said.

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Peter McMurray, chairman of the Ashby Board of Selectmen, said in a phone interview Sunday night that Martens was born into a family of firefighters, and she had continued in that family tradition.

McMurray said Martens’ father and grandfather had served as assistant fire chiefs for the Ashby fire department.

“It was a shock,” McMurray said of the deaths. “We’re a small town, and everyone knew her through her father and grandfather. Everyone’s taking it pretty hard.”

Martens had been a volunteer EMT on the mostly volunteer fire department for the past several years, said McMurray. She is listed on the Ashby website as having been an EMT since 2008 and also as a firefighter since 2009.


McMurray said he had worked side by side with Martens countless times and has known her family for more than 20 years. She also has a preteen daughter, he said.

“They’re a good family that have lived in town for a long time,” he said. “The crash happened not too far from town line, so it’s shocking.”

McMurray said the fire department held a meeting Sunday morning to let first responders know that Martens had died.

“I think everybody will think about her for quite a while,” he said.

Globe Correspondent Katherine Landergan contributed to this report. Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at