In February 2016, a manhole cover killed Caitlin Clavette. A 250-pound manhole cover dislodged and hit Clavette’s windshield as she was driving on I-93 in Boston. Clavette was a 35-year-old art teacher from Arlington. Governor Charlie Baker called the experience “unbelievably random and incredibly unusual.” In response to the incident, state highway inspectors examined more than 900 manhole covers, drainage gates and electrical panels. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) inspectors spent 22 hours inspecting covers and grates along I-93’s travel lanes. The inspection spanned from Somerville to Boston. They also inspected inside the tunnels that comprise the city’s highway system.
Crews inspected 919 structures in a variety of ways. They looked at them, drove over them and struck them with tools. On 854 structures, no action was needed. At 65 sites, inspectors performed “cautionary maintenance” and welded manhole covers.
Baker and officials reported that they did not find anything to indicate a larger problem. “The inspections found nothing to indicate a threat to public safety, rose to the level of alarming or indicated that any of the structures inspected would be insecure,” MassDOT Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin said.
MassDOT, state police and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office have continued their investigation of the cause of the accident. However, Massachusetts will not inspect manhole covers outside of the Boston area. Baker said that the state follows federal highway standards in inspecting all manhole covers. Covers must be inspected every two years; the cover that killed Clavette was last inspected in June 2014. Baker continued by saying, “The real issue is just the enormous randomness of the tragedy.”
Wrongful death cases occur all the time. Unsuspecting people and innocent victims are killed from falling debris, unsafe roadways and unforeseen incidents that can happen at any time. If this does happen, it is best for the victim’s family to seek legal counsel immediately to help in the process, especially with any follow-up in regard to what caused the death and who was at fault. In many cases, a corporation or government institution has not followed laws or protocol and this neglect leads to unnecessary and tragic death.
Parker | Scheer LLP has experienced wrongful death lawyers within its firm. A wrongful death lawsuit is often traumatic and complex, and requires a knowledgeable and respectful legal team. We seek to find the cause of the death and ensure that your family is compensated. Please contact a Boston wrongful death attorney at Parker | Scheer LLP today for a free, confidential consultation.