, Salem, MA

November 21, 2013

Driver pleads not guilty in crash


---- — PEABODY — The woman charged with crashing into a fence, then driving away with a neighbor clinging to the hood of the damaged car Monday evening has pleaded not guilty to charges that include driving to endanger.

Katie Burke, 31, of 286 Newbury St., Peabody, a Route 1 mobile home park, was released on her own recognizance in the case following her arraignment in Peabody District Court Tuesday. She is also facing charges of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, driving after license suspension, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, her boyfriend’s Chevrolet sedan.

Burke, a friend, and Burke’s two children, ages 11 and 4, were in the car when, Burke told police, she sneezed three times and lost control of the car, striking a fence.

Witnesses described the car as traveling straight into the fence without braking.

A 48-year-old woman who witnessed the crash then stood in front of the car to prevent Burke from driving away, she later told police.

Instead, the car lurched forward, the woman told police, striking her and knocking her onto the hood. Then, the woman said, Burke drove away, traveling 50 yards down the road and taking a right, as a second witness ran alongside.

Burke, meanwhile, told police that the older woman had “jumped” onto her car.

Burke told officers that while she did drive away from the crash, with a piece of fence still lodged in the front of the car, she intended to call the property manager the following morning.

Asked for her license, Burke told officers she had just reinstated it and didn’t happen to have it on her. Police later discovered that Burke’s license was still under suspension.

Burke’s children were uninjured in the crash, but the Department of Children and Families was notified of the incident.

According to court records, Burke is also currently on probation in a Salem drug and receiving stolen property case.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.