SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 25, 2013

Driver charged in fatal crash

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — PEABODY — A Peabody man has been charged with motor vehicle homicide and drunken driving after a crash on Walnut Street killed his passenger shortly after midnight Thursday.

Michael J. Fowler, 38, of 3 Highland Terrace, Apt. 2, was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail by Judge Matthew Nestor following Fowler’s arraignment yesterday in Peabody District Court.

Authorities said the crash killed Daniel Walker, 31, of 84 Endicott St., Apt. 2, in Peabody. An emergency medical technician who had come upon the accident tended to Walker, but Walker was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.

Police said they were notified of a crash in the area of 86 Walnut St. about 12:36 a.m. When they arrived, police found a 2010 Hyundai had crashed into a parked flatbed tow truck; an EMT was trying to assist the front-seat passenger.

The EMT told police he was driving back to the ambulance company when he saw a man get out of the car and start running. Police said they apprehended the suspect, identified as Fowler, a short time later on Northend Street — less than a half-mile from his listed address.

According to police scanner reports, Fowler was found with blood on his face. He failed field sobriety tests and refused the Breathalyzer, Lt. Arthur Yeo said. He was arrested and taken to Salem Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, then released back to Peabody police.

Yeo said the tow truck that Fowler struck belonged to Phil’s Towing and was parked illegally on the street near a driver’s residence.

“Technically, there’s an ordinance that prohibits parking overnight for commercial vehicles,” Yeo said. He added that police could have ticketed the vehicle or even towed it “if it presented a safety hazard.”

Yeo said there was no indication that Fowler tried to brake before the crash.

Both vehicles involved in the accident were towed to the Peabody police station.

Last June there was a similar incident in Salem, when a drunken-driving crash claimed the life of Dillon Renard, a 19-year-old Danvers man. Renard died instantly when the vehicle he was traveling in struck a parked flatbed tow truck, belonging to All Star Towing, on Salem Street. The driver of the vehicle, Angelique Griffin, was sentenced last November to two years in jail.

The charges against Fowler include motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence and negligent operation; operating under the influence, second offense; and leaving the scene of personal injury and death. A plea of not guilty was entered on Fowler’s behalf.

Fowler’s previous drunk driving offense was continued without a finding in 2010.

If Fowler posts bail, Judge Nestor ordered him not to drive unless he has a valid license, to have no alcohol and submit to random screens, and be monitored by GPS. If he fails to comply, he could be held for up to 60 days without bail.

Fowler is scheduled to appear in court again on June 19.