Lynnway Auto Auction and its president James Lamb have each been indicted by a Massachusetts grand jury on five counts of manslaughter, stemming from a fatal 2017 crash at the Billerica, Mass., auto auction.
That’s according to a news release from the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, which said the Middlesex Grand Jury on Thursday returned direct indictments of five counts of manslaughter against Lamb and five counts against Lynnway.
The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Billerica Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the crash, which involved a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee that “entered the auction showroom at a high rate of speed and drove into the designated pedestrian area striking several people, and crashed through the cinderblock wall,” the news release said.
The indictments represent one count for each fatality that stemmed from the crash, which occurred on May 3, 2017.
Two victims were pronounced dead on scene, and another was transported to a local hospital and subsequently died there from her injuries, the news release said. Nine others were taken to local hospitals. An additional two victims died later from their injuries.
“These indictments allege that the company and Mr. Lamb are criminally responsible for willfully, wantonly and recklessly failing to take appropriate actions that could have prevented the death of five people,” the district attorney’s office said in the news release.
“After an extensive examination of the crash, investigators determined that Lynnway Auto Auction Inc. and James Lamb, who was responsible for day-to day operations, were aware of shortfalls in the safety measures in place at the auction facility and that they failed to ensure that all drivers were properly licensed and trained,” it continued.
“As part of the investigation into this incident prosecutors also reviewed reports by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as incident reports generated by Lynnway Auto Auction which described previous instances in which Lynnway employees were struck by vehicles or otherwise injured in unsafe conditions,” the DA’s office said. “Lynnway had previously been notified that they should not employ unlicensed drivers. Despite these recommendations, Lynnway and Mr. Lamb did not ensure that operators had driver’s licenses, and the employer did not train or ensure the employees knew how to operate the vehicles.”
The statement later noted: “These charges are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. An arraignment date for Mr. Lamb has not yet been scheduled.”
The driver of the vehicle involved in the crash will not face charges, the DA’s office said. The driver did have an expired driver’s license, but Massachusetts law allows individuals to drive vehicles on private property even if they don’t have a license.
“The Lynnway facility is not a public way; therefore the Commonwealth has determined that it would not be able to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver of the vehicle acted recklessly, and therefore he has not been charged with manslaughter,” the DA’s office said.
More details are available in the news release from the DA's office.
It was reported in AuSM last week that Lynnway Auto Auction had been purchased by America’s Auto Auction. Details on that acquisition are available here.