BOXFORD — A Peabody man was killed Saturday night in a three-car crash on I-95 North just after state police received numerous reports of two vehicles apparently racing on the opposite, southbound, side of the highway just before 10 p.m.
Michael Espinola, 38, of Peabody, who state police say was behind the wheel of a 1997 BMW convertible that crossed the highway's median, was transported to Beverly Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Four other people, including a 12-year-old girl, in the other two vehicles involved in the crash were all transported to Beverly Hospital as well, but with non-life threatening injuries.
The crash occurred near Exit 53 and closed three northbound lanes for several hours.
Emergency crews also responded to what appears to have been a chain-reaction crash involving a car that drove into the back of a tractor trailer on the northbound side of the highway near the same exit just an hour later.
The operator in this separate crash, a 24-year-old woman from Hampton, New Hampshire, suffered serious injuries and was flown by helicopter to Brigham and Women's in Boston, said Trooper Matthew Guarino, a state police spokesman. The crash occurred at 11:14 p.m.
In the first accident, at 9:52 p.m., numerous 911 calls reported two vehicles racing in the southbound lanes in Boxford, state police said in a statement posted online.
Shortly thereafter, 911 callers reported a serious multi-car crash on the northbound side of the highway at exit 53, state police said.
Troopers from the Newbury barracks responded to the scene of the three-car crash along with the Boxford, Topsfield and Georgetown fire departments and emergency medical services. Trooper Kevin O'Neill reported one of the drivers had life-threatening injuries.
The trooper's initial investigation found that the BMW driven by Espinola was speeding, crossed into oncoming traffic, and struck a 2012 Acura MDX and a 2009 Honda Civic.
The driver of the Acura was identified as a 64-year-old North Hampton, New Hampshire, man, and his passenger, a woman who is also 64 from the same town. The driver of the Honda was a 43-year-old Georgetown woman who had a 12-year-old girl as a passenger. They were all taken to the hospital.
State police from the collision analysis and reconstruction and the crime scene services teams are assisting with the investigation. The Essex District Attorney's office was notified and will also be assisting.
State highway crews assisted at the scene with marking the closure of the three northbound lanes for the police response and investigation. The left lane remained open during the investigation, and all lanes reopened at 1:03 a.m. on Sunday.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.