A National Grid worker and a police officer were killed and two others injured after a pickup truck slammed into their worksite on a major Massachusetts thoroughfare, highlighting the dangers utility and construction crews face when working on projects on busy roads and highways.
A New Hampshire man is facing multiple charges after crashing his truck into the Totten Pond Road worksite in Waltham, Mass. late Wednesday, Dec. 6, killing Waltham Police Officer Paul Tracy and National Grid worker Roderick Jackson and injuring two of his workmates, according to multiple media reports.
Peter Simon, a 54-year-old New Hampshire man, allegedly went on to hijack a police cruiser and led police on a chase that ended when he was apprehended after crashing the cruiser and attempting to flee on foot.
Jackson and his National Grid coworkers were working to stop a possible gas leak when the crash occurred, with Officer Tracy providing the police detail.
Jackson joined National Grid in early 2021 and was working as a gas operations technician, according to a statement released to the media by National Grid, which called the Cambridge resident a “highly-respected, talented and selfless teammate who worked extremely hard, took on extra duties and had built strong friendships with members on his team.”
In an interview with WBZ, Joe Garcia, a National Grid worker who knew Jackson, described the dangers of working on projects alongside roads and highways with speeding traffic.
He urged drivers to slow down.
“Tragic. This is what we have to deal with as utility workers and police officers,” Garcia told WBZ. “I just pray for the families," he said. "The job itself for the utility workers is we're always in traffic areas. You guys see us every day out there. You guys know what it is. Just slow down, people. I don't know what exactly happened, they're still doing the investigations."
According to a survey released earlier this year by the Associated General Contractors of America, more than 55% of respondents had experienced work zone crashes during the past 12 months, with 28% recording incidents that resulted in injury to construction workers and 8% reporting events that caused worker fatalities.
One of the worst work zone crashes this year came on March 22 and claimed the lives of six construction workers along I-695 in Baltimore, Md.
Simon, the suspect, was arraigned Thursday in Waltham District Court on manslaughter charges, as “assault with a dangerous weapon, armed robbery, driving without a license, and multiple motor vehicle violations,” according to media reports.