A preliminary investigation has ruled out speed as a factor in last week’s fatal Elm Square crash in Andover.
Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe told the select board Monday the ongoing investigation also found traffic signals were working properly at the time five-year-old Sidney Olson was hit and killed by a Sysco truck while she crossed the street. The Massachusetts State Police also ruled out vehicle malfunctions. “Unfortunately, for these incidents, the investigations take a long time,” Keefe said.
The driver stayed on scene and is cooperating in the investigation. Essex County District Attorney spokesman Glen Johnson said Tuesday afternoon no charges have been filed.
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The girl’s family said in a statement the walk light was lit when she crossed the street. Currently, lights in Elm Square are configured so drivers can turn right when walk signs are lit. The controllers have a feature known as “Lead Pedestrian Interval,” which lights the walk signs before the right turn lights, giving pedestrians a slight head start.
WalkBikeAndover began circulating a petition demanding the immediate installation of “No Turn On Red” signs and programming traffic lights to turn red in all directions when walk signs are lit. To date, the Town has resisted those changes, prioritizing traffic flow through the intersection of Main and Elm Streets across from Memorial Hall Library.
Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said changing the signal configuration would require state approval, which cannot happen without the completion of a traffic study. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it will begin a road safety audit of Elm Square “as soon as possible” after state legislators representing Andover to “focus resources on improving pedestrian safety at the intersection” in a May 11 letter.
Flanagan noted Annual Town Meeting approved funding for a traffic study and a new police traffic enforcement unit earlier this month. He said the Town will have “ample opportunity” for public input as the Town begins data collection and the traffic study needed to make changes. “I think you will see our efforts reflected in the weeks and months to come,” he said.