Woman killed in head-on crash involving Somerset police cruiser
SOMERSET — Hailey Allard’s friends hugged and cried as they gathered Friday afternoon at the site of a head-on collision involving a police cruiser that claimed the life of the UMass-Dartmouth student early that morning.
“We want to remember her for who she was, and that’s the most loving, caring, she-would-give anything-up-for-anyone type of person,” said Ali Shaw, a friend of Allard’s. “She was all around amazing.”
Allard’s boyfriend, Joseph Souza, was among the friends who placed framed photos and bouquets of flowers at a stop sign adjacent to the site of the collision.
“She showed me love,” Souza said. “Her smile, that was the best.”
Allard, 20, of Somerset, was driving a 1999 Honda Civic when it collided with the police cruiser, a 2016 Ford Explorer, around 12:35 a.m. Friday as she was negotiating a left-hand turn off Route 138. The cruiser was rushing to investigate a report that a man was attempting to break into a truck parked at the Gridiron Pub on Slades Ferry Avenue, according to police.
State Police said Allard was driving north on Route 138 — also known as Riverside Avenue — and was approaching the turn at the intersection with Westhill Avenue when the vehicles collided.
“The force of the impact caused the Civic to spin and come to a final rest facing south in the northbound lane,’’ said State Police spokesman David Procopio in an e-mail.
Somerset firefighters extricated Allard from the crumpled car and she was rushed to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, where she was later pronounced dead, Procopio said.
The officer was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Procopio and a post on the Somerset police Facebook page.
The crash is under investigation by Bristol District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn’s office as well as State Police and Somerset police.
Somerset Police Chief George McNeil, who was on scene early Friday morning, said the car collision was head-on and indications are that one of the cars wasn’t in its correct lane. McNeil declined to say which car was in the wrong lane or who was at fault, as the cause of the crash is still under investigation.
“It wasn’t an angle or a T-bone,” said McNeil, in an interview at the police station Friday afternoon.
David Lavoie, whose house is just a few yards from the site, said he was outside minutes after the crash, helping the officer out of his cruiser. He didn’t see any flashing lights on the cruiser, he said.
Marion Digiammo, who lives just past Westhill Avenue on Riverside Avenue, had just woken up to get a glass of water when she heard the crash. She said she didn’t hear any police sirens.
“It was the most ungodly sound,” Digiammo said. “It was so loud, I thought someone had hit a car in my driveway. You could tell it was serious.”
McNeil said the department’s policy on activating cruiser sirens and flashing lights depends on the type of response an officer is involved in. When a officer is trying to respond to a break-in, he said, “you usually don’t use want to use your siren and they may or may not use their lights.”
He also said that officers are permitted to “cautiously” exceed the speed limit. McNeil said State Police will examine the cruiser’s black box, which records speed and light activity. Somerset police cruisers do not have dash cameras, McNeil said.
The officer sustained injuries to his head and neck, but is “physically okay,” McNeil said.
“I’m sure he’s not emotionally okay,” McNeil said. “Anything that happens like that is just devastating. In the future, it’s always going to be in the back of your mind.”
Friends said that Allard, who was a nursing student at UMass-Dartmouth, wanted to work with children suffering from cancer.
Chancellor Robert E. Johnson said in an e-mail to the university community that Allard had made her mark on friends, faculty, and staff while enrolled in the nursing program.
“She has been described to me as bright, perpetually positive, and hard working student,” Johnson wrote. “Hailey clearly chose the right profession, following in the footsteps of her mother, a UMassD nursing alumna, and now a graduate student.”
Allard’s family reached at their home declined to comment but in a statement described the crash as “a complete and utter tragedy.”
“Hailey was an exceptional young woman who was full of life and energy,” the statement said. “Her smile was infectious and brightened everyone’s day.”
Allard, her relatives said in the statement, “loved her family with all her heart, especially her two younger brothers. Her mother and father cannot express the heaviness in their hearts and the pain they will carry forever.”