, Salem, MA

Local News

February 13, 2013

Lowell Street light urged

Peabody: Meeting called to discuss safety after fatal accident outside church

More than three dozen residents gathered at Peabody City Hall last night to consider what actions ought to be taken following last month’s fatal accident outside St. Adelaide Church in West Peabody.

Theodore Buttner, 87, of Somerville, who regularly attended the church with his family, was struck by a car as he crossed the street on the afternoon of Jan. 27. No charges have been leveled against the driver who hit him, Richard Franco, 84, of Peabody.

A state police investigation is still pending, according to Peabody police Capt. John DeRosa.

“We are heartbroken to have lost someone so gentle, a loving man who always had his arms extended to others,” Patricia Caton, Buttner’s daughter, told the gathering. “He was full of life. And in good health.”

She thanked all those who tried to save her father’s life.

The meeting was called informally by a group of city councilors. It revolved around finding a way to make the crosswalk in front of the church on Lowell Street safer.

The Rev. David Lewis said he would produce a petition signed by a thousand people asking for a pedestrian light. He described Masses discharging as many as 400 parishioners at a time, with many heading for a second parking lot across the street.

“Something has to happen soon,” parishioner Tim Barry said. “Before we have another tragedy.” He also stressed enforcement. “People need to know if you’re going to drive down that road at a high speed, you’re going to get a ticket.”

But there also seemed agreement that any attempt at making the road safer would run into the problem of bad drivers.

DeRosa noted that the speed limit for the street varies from 25 to 35 mph. He conceded later that drivers habitually exceed the limit.

“That stretch of Lowell Street is very straight,” parishioner Angela Federico said, “and people do fly.”

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