While the parents of Sidney Olson say the walk sign was lit when she was killed crossing in Elm Square last month, Town of Andover officials are cautioning against drawing conclusions until the District Attorney’s office finishes its investigation.
“The known circumstances of the tragedy are still so very upsetting for so many people,” Select Board Chair Melissa Danisch said in an email to Andover News Wednesday. “Until the DA’s office releases its final report, we should all be very careful about presenting the facts of what happened until their investigation concludes.”
Essex County DA spokesperson Glen Johnson said the office does not comment on ongoing investigations. “Please sit tight. We’re working this case carefully,” Johnson said.
Danisch’s note came after Town Manager Andrew Flanagan requested Andover News update a story on a separate, road safety audit by the town’s engineering consultant to determine what safety improvements could be made in Elm Square. Dansich asked for Andover News social media posts about the story be updated as well.
“The findings haven’t been released yet, so nothing can be said conclusively,” Flanagan said.
The story and posts on Twitter and Facebook were updated to attribute the assertion the walk light was on to Olson’s parents.
The DA’s office issued the statement from the Olson family saying the signals showed it was safe to cross two days after the May 9 crash.
“Our five-year-old daughter, Sidney, and one other family member traversed the cross-walk on Elm Street, as the Walk sign showed it was still safe to cross,” the family said last month. “As long-time residents of the neighborhood, we’ve followed that route hundreds of times before. The rest was a blur, and Sidney was struck by a truck and killed, leaving an impossible void in our lives.”
Since the May 11 statement, Eric Olson, Sidney’s father, has spoken at an Elm Square safety forum and a select board meeting where he asked Town officials to “commit to zero fatalities.”
“I think we’d all say no one should die in a crosswalk,” Olson said at the June 5 select board meeting. “No one should feel unsafe in a crosswalk.”
The intersection is a longstanding target for safety complaints. Olson also said a group of concerned families had formed an advocacy group called “Sidney’s Rainbows.”
Olson said Sidney’s Rainbows wants the Town to commit to “zero fatalities” and to work with the state Department of Transportation to expand its safety audit of Elm Square to other Downtown intersections. The group also wants the Town to move stop lines in the intersection back from crosswalks and stricter enforcement of speed limits on the streets feeding into the intersection.