Death toll from Mass. auto auction crash rises to 4

A Massachusetts man died Wednesday from injuries sustained during the May 3 crash at Lynnway Auto Auction near Boston. Four people have died from injuries sustained during the crash, while another eight were hospitalized. Photo credit: WBZ-TV CBS Boston

A 50-year-old Massachusetts man died Wednesday as a result of injuries sustained during last week’s deadly crash at an auto auction near Boston.

Elliott Rowlands Jr. of Buzzards Bay, Mass., is the fourth victim to die as a result of the May 3 crash at Lynnway Auto Auction in Billerica, just northwest of Boston, according to a news release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Rowlands died at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in nearby Burlington, where several victims were transported after the crash, which also injured eight other people. Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while one was taken to a hospital and died later that day.

Police and the district attorney’s office continue to investigate the crash, which happened during Lynnway’s weekly auction. At 10:13 a.m., a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by a 77-year-old employee through an auction lane suddenly accelerated, hitting several people before crashing through a cinderblock wall.

A preliminary investigation revealed no evidence of the crash being intentional, though it is still unclear whether a mechanical issue, a medical event or another factor caused it. An Automotive News request seeking further details from the district attorney’s office on the investigation and the crash was denied.

The driver reportedly lacked a valid driver’s license at the time of the crash. According to local reports, the unidentified driver held a license when he was hired by Lynnway in 2010, though it was suspended in 2012 and was never reinstated by the time it expired in 2015.

The latest death came after Lynnway Auto Auction held its weekly auto auction Wednesday as scheduled. A prayer service open to licensed dealers was scheduled to be held before the auction, according to a post on Lynnway’s website.

The crash has brought the topic of safety at auto auctions, known for being cramped with hundreds of people and dozens of moving vehicles, back into the spotlight. Lynnway said after the crash that it would install barriers to help prevent future crashes, and the National Auto Auction Association said it would donate $25,000 to a fund to support families of victims.

You can reach John Irwin at jirwin@crain.com -- Follow John on Twitter: @JohnDIrwin

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