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Van driver arraigned in hit-and-run death of pedestrian

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When Queshon S. Ivy was offered a day job at a construction site in Dorchester Wednesday morning, he was eager to work.

But the 43-year-old Ivy never made it to the job site on Washington Street. Officials said he was struck and killed around 8 a.m. by a private transportation van, whose driver fled after the crash.

Nat Mendell, a superintendent for the company building affordable housing there, said Nauset Construction Corp. expected Ivy to report to a trailer behind the construction site to sign in and pick up tools.

"He never made it in here," Mendell said Thursday. "He was killed out here on Washington Street on his way to work."


The van driver, Melissa L. Benedict, 34, was arrested Wednesday after officers found her about 20 minutes after the crash. She was on Morton Street, 1½ miles from the accident, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney William Kettlewell.

Benedict appeared Thursday in Dorchester Municipal Court to face charges of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. She was operating the van as a driver for VHS Transportation Co. in Easton and was in the company of a monitor, officials said.

Benedict, of Dorchester, stood in the dock wearing the hood from her green sweatshirt over her head as not-guilty pleas were entered on her behalf.

Kettlewell said a witness told investigators that she saw a white van cut her off and then "speed really, really fast" past her on the passenger side.

"As this operator was traveling up Washington Street behind where the van was traveling, she saw something fly in the air in front of her car," Kettlewell said during Benedict's arraignment. "When she pulled up, she realized it was a body."

Another witness told police that a white transport van struck a man crossing Washington Street and then turned right onto Harvard Street, Kettlewell said.


The witness, who was not named, said the "school van did not even give the 'guy a chance' to slow down and just hit the guy," according to a police report filed in court.

Benedict told investigators she had just adjusted the heat and had pulled down a visor in the van when she heard "a big boom" and turned onto Harvard Street, Kettlewell said.

"She stated that she tried to stop on Harvard Street but felt that the van wanted to fishtail," Kettlewell said.

Benedict said she regained control of the van and stopped on Athelwold Street, according to the police report. She told police she did not call 911 because she was following a work rule and had called her office.

"She thought someone driving by or the monitor who's in the car with her would call 911," Kettlewell said.

Kettlewell sought $5,000 bail for Benedict. Defense lawyer Michelle Troiano said Benedict's family could not afford bail higher than $1,000.

She said Benedict is a mother of two children and has no criminal record. Benedict has been driving for VHS Transportation for three years, Troiano said. "In essence, if bail was set at $5,000, she would be held without bail," he said.

Judge Paul McManus set bail at $1,000. Troiano said Benedict's family was posting the money.

One of her relatives said he was also friends with Ivy. He defended Benedict. "Obviously she made a couple bad decisions, but she's a good girl," said Dana Burton. "I don't have anything bad to say about her."


Vin Savill, who owns VHS Transportation, said Benedict transports adults and had not begun working when the crash occurred.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.