Westfield veteran firefighter hit by van dies; driver charged

Yarmouth accident leaves companion seriously injured

 Lynda Cavanaugh and Kevin Regan, sweethearts at Westfield High School, were struck by a van on Saturday evening in Yarmouth.
Chris Regan
Lynda Cavanaugh and Kevin Regan, sweethearts at Westfield High School, were struck by a van on Saturday evening in Yarmouth.

Westfield firefighter Kevin Regan loved nothing more than cruising in his convertible down to his second home on the Cape, his high school sweetheart by his side.

Regan and Lynda Cavanaugh, both 62, were enjoying a few days on Cape Cod this weekend. On Saturday evening, which police described as “particularly foggy,” they were trying to walk across Route 28 in Yarmouth, police said, when they were hit by a car, leaving Regan dead and Cavanaugh seriously injured.

The driver, Paul Dennehy, 55, of Yarmouth, was arrested on charges including motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving, after hitting the pair while driving a blue 2009 Ford Econovan E150, according to authorities.


Regan lay on his back in the middle of the road near Parkers River Bridge, not breathing, pulse fading. Yarmouth Officer Sean Geary performed CPR on him, and an ambulance took him to Cape Cod Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

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Officers found Cavanaugh face down on the edge of the road with serious injuries to her head and elsewhere. She was able to speak to first responders and was flown by medical helicopter to a Boston area hospital, where Regan’s brother, Chris Regan, said she underwent surgery Sunday.

The couple shared a home and lengthy history.

They’d been together for decades — first dating each other at Westfield High School and reconnecting for good when they were in their 20s. Their fathers were both Westfield firefighters.

And they had decided to marry just a few years ago.


“They were both happy in their situation. They got engaged a few years ago, after decades together,” Chris said. He said the couple had plans to visit Boston Sunday.

Regan, a 43-year veteran of the Westfield Fire Department, was the department’s most senior firefighter, Deputy Chief James Kane told the Globe in a phone interview Sunday.

He joined the department when he was 19 years old, following in the footsteps of his late father, Daniel Regan, who was a 20-year veteran there.

Chris, 52, is also a Westfield firefighter with 27 years of duty. They were the first brothers to work on the same department, often riding together in the same ambulances and fire trucks. Their sister, Mary Regan, became their city’s first female fire chief in 2011.

Regan leaves eight siblings — five brothers and three sisters.


Chris said his brother was an active member of the firefighter’s union. He was “very proud” of his Irish heritage, he said, and was a founder of the Westfield-based social club, the Sons of Erin.

Regan was also serving as chairman of Westfield’s retirement board.

“He was loyal. We’re Irish, Irish people are very loyal to each other,” said fellow board member Michael Powers.

“If a fireman died or a policeman died, Kevin Regan was there,’’ he said. “It’s a huge loss.”

Powers said Regan helped public servants particularly in times of crisis.

“He was such an advocate for all public employees not only in Westfield, but Massachusetts and in the country,” said Powers. “He was such an advocate for firefighters and especially for the issues we have going on with police [referencing recent tensions between civilians and police], he was the guy that stood up for public servants.

“He was just an unbelievable guy, and he made a difference for people that put their lives in harm’s way.”

Powers, a lawyer, said Regan would strongly support the families of public servants who died in the line of duty.

“When someone loses a life, sometimes you worry about who gets money, and he went to bat to make sure that family . . . those people who were survivors of public servants would get what they deserve,” Powers said. “I’m a lawyer, and he knew the law better than me.”

Chris echoed Powers’s sentiments, saying his brother was “very politically active” and well-known in groups around the country, having attended many national conventions in his role as president of the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems about a decade ago.

“He knew people from all over the state — the country, really,” Deputy Chief Kane said, describing Regan as “outgoing.”

Kane fought fires with Regan for 35 years, but his memories of his friend date back to childhood. They served as altar boys together, and Kane said Regan “was like a brother” to him.

Regan’s brother Chris owned property in Dennis next door to his brother.

“[He was] very funny,” Chris said. “We had a lot of good times. . . . The Cape was his favorite place to be. [He loved] just everything, the beach, West Dennis Beach.”

The driver of the car that hit Regan and Cavanaugh remained at the scene, performing a series of field sobriety tests before he was arrested, police said.

Sergeant Neal Donohue said Dennehy told police at the scene that “out of nowhere” the couple “ran in front of his van.” Donohue said poor visibility due to heavy fog and darkness may have contributed to the accident.

Dennehy is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Barnstable District Court.

The incident was the second fatal crash in Yarmouth involving alcohol in 24 hours, according to police.

Police say 33-year-old James D. Rebello III, of Dennis, was driving at an “extremely high rate of speed” early Saturday morning when he lost control of a 1998 Audi; his passenger, Steven T. Berrio died after being ejected in the crash. Alcohol was found inside the Audi, police said.

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