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88-Year-Old Pedestrian Killed in MBTA Bus Accident

The incident happened shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Franklin and Pratt Streets.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday

An 88-year-old pedestrian died after being struck by a MBTA bus in the area of Franklin and Pratt Streets Tuesday night, according to Kenneth Green, deputy chief for the MBTA Transit Police.

Police responded to the accident scene at the corner of Franklin and Pratt Streets at 7:06 p.m. Melrose Police and Fire units also responded.

Based on their initial investigation, police believe the 88-year-old man was crossing the street when he was struck by the 131 Melrose Highlands bus. The victim, whose name is being withheld pending notification of family, was pronounced dead at the scene and later transported to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.

"The victim was attempting to cross the street," Green said. "The bus was traveling about 20 miles per hour and about to pull in to a bus stop, and, according to witnesses on the scene, the way the sun was coming over the hill there was a real nasty sun glare and that might have contributed to the bus hitting him."

Police do not believe the accident was suspicious in nature, and the bus driver will be relieved of their duties and tested for drugs and alcohol which is standard procedure.

The case is being handled by the Middlesex District Attorney's office, according to Green.

Observations From Passers-By

Observers of the accident scene recall what they saw Tuesday evening.

"Sea of blue lights on Franklin (Street). Not a good sign at all," tweeted Twitter user A.P. Blake (@BostonUrbEx).

In an email to Melrose Patch Tuesday night, a Melrose man said, "Looks like an older gentleman hit in crosswalk at Franklin and Pratt by the bus closer to 7 p.m. I came upon the scene on (my) way home right after it happened. Very disturbing. Person looked dead..."

He continued, saying, "He was face down in a pool of blood about 20-30 feet beyond the crosswalk in the east bound lane...The bus was stopped upon the crosswalk. About 6-8 people were gathered around the victim. Another was directing traffic around the bus. Nobody was offering assistance. I'm not sure it mattered."

The man reported seeing a window on the passenger side of the bus being broken.

At the scene, Melrose Patch interviewed a Melrosian who saw the victim in the roadway shortly after they were struck. Adam Colucci, a five-year resident in the city, said he had just finished dinner when he heard a commotion outside following the accident.

"The paramedics had just arrived on scene and they had broken out the backboard and they were setting him on it and performing CPR and things like that," said Colucci, who has lived on Franklin Street for the past several months. "I saw a lot of blood and he had a pretty good gash on his head. Shortly after that, they put a blanket over him...and about 1-2 minutes after that he was in the ambulance." 

As of 9:30 p.m., police were still on scene investigating. The scene was clear by 10 p.m.

Lory Hough May 08, 2013 at 12:33 PM
This is terrible news, but, unfortunately, not entirely surprising. Franklin Street is very difficult to cross. Drivers don't want to stop for pedestrians and there are few crosswalks. In fact, I think the only one is next to the Highlands train stop and even there, drivers rarely stop. I wrote to the city once about this, requesting additional crosswalks be installed on Franklin, but never heard back from anyone. My son and I need to cross the street when we walk home from school. Sometimes, we literally stand there for 10 minutes as the car whizz by, completely ignoring us. Adding more crosswalks won't guarantee that drivers stop or that the street becomes safer to cross, but it would be a good start.
Edith McGandy Ackerman May 08, 2013 at 02:41 PM
There's a crosswalk right where this unfortunate accident took place, and one by Vinton, and probably others too. I agree though, people don't slow down and it's hard to cross Franklin Street, especially if you are older, have a small child with you, etc.
Lory Hough May 08, 2013 at 03:37 PM
You're right -- there is one by Vinton, which is close to the Highland's crosswalk. I've used that one a few times, but I find that drivers REALLY do not stop at that one.
Jeff Berlin May 08, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Franklin Street is the major corridor linking Saugus and Melrose to Stoneham. Cars travel way too fast, especially for the narrow section between Main St. Melrose to Greenwood Street. I heard there was a fatality in that same spot 20 years ago.
John Wright May 08, 2013 at 04:47 PM
How is the sun glare an issue for the bus when it was traveling east with the setting sun behind it? Why did the bus not stop completely at the bus stop instead of the cross walk just east of the stop?
Edith McGandy Ackerman May 08, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Pictures show bus travelling west, not east.
John Wright May 08, 2013 at 05:12 PM
thanks for clarifying. I was thrown by the text which said the bus was in the east bound lane. I see the pictures show it traveling west and crossing from the west bound lane to the eastbound lane. A shame in any case.
Betsey Benagh May 08, 2013 at 05:13 PM
There is a crosswalk where this incident occurs, but drivers rarely stop there. The only one where I truly feel safe crossing is in front of the Highlands church. Drivers go way too fast down Franklin Street, and rarely seem to be looking for pedestrians, despite the existence of crosswalks at Vinton, on the west side of the tracks, at Tremont, and at Pratt.
Lory Hough May 08, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I wonder what can be done to bring about change. Public service campaigns? Adding a traffic light or two?
Betsey Benagh May 08, 2013 at 06:46 PM
I wrote a letter to the Mayor, and encourage others to do so, as well. Perhaps this tragedy will provide the catalyst for change, and something good can come out of an awful incident.
beth carroll May 08, 2013 at 08:46 PM
perhaps adding the middle of the road pylons - the small reflective signs that say 'stop for pedestrians' - as those are more visible than the lines on the road? that seems like a low-cost change with high visibility.
Betsey Benagh May 08, 2013 at 08:50 PM
The reflective signs already exist at a couple of the crosswalks, and they get hit on a regular basis. I'm not sure they are very effective, but I can't imagine they hurt, either.
Arleen Frasca May 09, 2013 at 02:25 AM
The solar glare I'm sure was a factor. I was driving west on Essex Street near Deering Lumber about that same time, shortly after 7:00pm, and came to a complete stop in the middle of Essex Street, the sun was absolutely blinding...couldn't see a thing. I had to use my son's sunglasses before proceeding. So tragic. A remarkable man.
Chris Hancock May 09, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Arleen, At least you adjusted your driving according to the conditions. If Mr. McLain was crossing the crosswalk headed to the VFW he would have already been in the crosswalk for a few seconds in order to have reached the west bound lane. How long was the bus driver driving blind without slowing appropriately for conditions like you did? If you can't see that long 20 mph is just too fast. I agree, crossing Franklin is challenging. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to for the city to better maintain the crosswalks on major city arteries with more frequent paintings so they are easier for motorist to see. A very sad situation and my thoughts are with Mr. McLain's family.
beth carroll May 09, 2013 at 01:28 PM
betsey, i actually drove home Franklin St last night, after posting my comment, to check what's already there - there are 3 or 4 crosswalks, and only one has a reflective sign.

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