Crash kills couple on a stroll in Back Bay
The couple had been strolling through the Back Bay Saturday evening, the end of an idyllic first day of summer. Less than two hours earlier, Jessica Campbell posted a photo online of the sun setting over the Charles River.
About 9:15 p.m., police said, one vehicle collided with another, flipped, and struck Campbell and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Jack Lanzillotti, near the intersection of Beacon and Fairfield streets.
Lanzillotti, an Emmy-winning production manager for the Red Sox, died at the scene. Campbell, 27, a retail analyst who had been scheduled to run in a Boston Athletic Association 10K race Sunday morning, died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said Boston Police spokeswoman Officer Rachel McGuire.
Two people in cars involved in the crash were taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, said McGuire. The extent of their injuries was unknown, and police had not released their identities by Sunday evening.
Police gave few details and it was unclear how many vehicles were involved. As of Sunday evening, police said, no charges had been filed.
Sabrina Ellis, 57, said she was walking near the opposite corner of the intersection when the cars collided.
“It was just so awful to hear the screeching sound,” Ellis said Sunday afternoon.
Ellis, who lives in the neighborhood, said another neighbor she was with helped pull the driver out of the black SUV. “The woman they let out of the black SUV . . . was hysterical and crying,” Ellis said.
Sam Wallace, president of the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay, who lives in a condominium at the scene of Saturday’s crash, said speeding has become commonplace recently and pedestrian safety in the area is a major concern among the residents.
“This is no longer Beacon Street; it’s the Indianapolis Speedway,” Wallace said. “The noise, the motorcycle races, the car races. And the later it gets, the worse it is.”
Lanzillotti’s mother, Patricia, said her son and Campbell had been dating for several years. He loved his family, his girlfriend, and the Red Sox, she said.
“They were fun and loving with each other,” Patricia Lanzillotti said.
The two had recently moved in together, said a grieving relative of Lanzillotti’s, who answered the phone at Patricia Lanzillotti’s home but did not want to be identified.
Campbell, who had been a cheerleader at Arlington High School, had worked at Kantar Retail since June 2011. Her parents declined to comment Sunday.
Patricia Lanzillotti said her son took pride in his work with the Red Sox, where he began as a production assistant in 2007.
At 28, he had risen to become the manager of Red Sox Productions for Game Operations. He created vignettes that air on the video boards at Fenway Park to entertain fans between innings and also produced features for the “Red Sox Report” program.
“He was a great kid who worked for the Red Sox and loved his job,” Lanzillotti said. “He would have loved to stay there and work his way up within Red Sox nation.”
Lanzillotti graduated from Boston University in 2008 and Campbell had graduated from Northeastern University in 2010. Lanzillotti had won a regional Emmy Award in 2011 for the video “A stolen base lesson with Jacoby Ellsbury.”
One of his partners on the project, Red Sox Productions director John Carter, said he saw Lanzillotti grow from the time he started with the organization. He credited Lanzillotti for helping the production team make the transition to high-definition video, coordinating a project commemorating Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary, and raising the department’s spirits after the loss of the team’s public address announcer, Carl Beane, in 2012.
“He never took anything for granted,” Carter said, praising his hard work. “And we’re a lesser organization for having lost Jack.” Calling him the “brains” of the production operation, Carter said Lanzillotti had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Red Sox footage.
“We would say, ‘We need a shot of Johnny Pesky hitting a single,’ and he would say, ‘I know right where that is,’ ” Carter said in a statement. “There is no way to describe how much we will miss him – professionally and personally. Our hearts are broken, and we share our sorrow with his family and with Jessica’s family. It’s just incomprehensible.”
Red Sox president and chief executive Larry Lucchino cited Lanzillotti’s “poise under pressure and good-humored manner.’’
“We are all grief-stricken, and we send our deepest sympathies and condolences to Jack’s and Jessica’s families,’’ Lucchino said.
The Boston Globe is owned by John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox.
The incident weighed heavily on many in the Back Bay area, who were still reeling from a fatal fire in March down Beacon Street and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Witnesses provided differing accounts of the crash.
Glass and other debris could still be seen Sunday near the northern edge of Beacon Street about 10 yards west of Fairfield Street.
Mourners had left five bouquets of flowers at the base of a handicapped parking sign on Beacon Street. An index-card sized note with “John + Jessica you will never be forgotten” handwritten on it was tied to the post.
A neighbor, Alexandra Giacalone, came to put a candle in the memorial.
“I just want to make sure people remember,” she said.
Norma Jones, who lives near the crash site, said she was hit by a car several years ago while crossing Fairfield Street at its intersection with Beacon Street. The driver fled the scene as soon as it became apparent she was OK, Jones said.
Jones and Wallace both said a car damaged the fence in front of 334 Beacon St. in 2008, almost exactly where Lanzillotti and Campbell were hit.
Wallace said problems with speeding cars were not confined to Beacon Street.
A Boston University official called the deaths heartbreaking.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,’’ said Colin Riley, Boston University executive director of media relations. “The BU community is just devastated.”
Patricia Lanzillotti said her son had dreamed of returning to school.
“He was just the brightest,” she said, choking up Sunday. “He would always talk about getting an MBA, going into the business side of everything and furthering his career.”
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