, Salem, MA

January 30, 2013

Elderly man dies after pedestrian accident

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — He was in town to visit family, but never made it.

Theodore Buttner, 87, of Somerville was struck and killed while walking across Lowell Street as he was leaving St. Adelaide Church on Sunday. He was in the crosswalk around 1 p.m. when Richard Franco, 84, of Peabody hit him with his 2004 Buick LeSabre, police said.

While Buttner was from out of town, he attended St. Adelaide’s occasionally when visiting family.

“He was coming to visit us,” said his daughter, Patricia Caton of Peabody. “He thought we were at the church, but we weren’t there. He was on his way to our house.”

Caton was unaware that her father had gone to the church when she received the phone call from Peabody police telling her he’d been hit. Buttner died later that evening at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“It was devastating,” Caton said.

Franco has not been cited or charged, pending the results of the investigation, Peabody police Detective Michael Crane said.

Crane said no further details about the crash will be released until the investigation is complete. A state police accident reconstruction team is assisting with the investigation.

City Councilor Michael Garabedian, chairman of the city’s Municipal Safety Committee, said the street has become very busy because of growth at the Shop & Save Plaza about a quarter-mile away.

Buttner, who went by the nickname Ted, was a World War II Navy veteran stationed at Pearl Harbor and worked for the MBTA for 35 years. He and his late wife, Theresa, were married for 57 years and had five children, seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

“He loved to get together with us as a family,” Caton said. “He enjoyed the holidays and cookouts.”

A devout Catholic, Buttner met Cardinal Sean O’Malley last year when he visited St. Adelaide, Caton said.

On the day of the accident, a nurse and many others came to Buttner’s assistance.

“He was never alone; they stayed with him,” she said. “It means a lot to my family that he was not alone when that tragedy occurred.”

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.