CAMBRIDGE – Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan has confirmed that the investigation into the June 23, 2016 fatal bicycle crash that occurred on Cambridge Street at the intersection of Antrim Street in Cambridge has been completed.
Around noon on Thursday, June 23 investigators were called to a crash involving a bicyclist, identified as Amanda Phillips, 27, of Somerville, who had reportedly struck the driver's side door of a 1999 Jeep Cherokee that was parked in a marked parking space on Cambridge Street. The bicycle overturned and Ms. Phillips travelled along the road surface before entering the path of travel of a single axle dump truck landscaping vehicle, towing a trailer, that was travelling westbound down Cambridge Street. Ms. Phillips subsequently became lodged under the right rear tires of the truck. Ms. Phillips was not immediately alert, but became responsive before being transported to Massachusetts General Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries later that day.
The investigation, which included, but was not limited to, a reconstruction of the collision, a visibility study, a vehicle examination, a review of available surveillance footage and witness interviews, concluded that the owner of the 1999 Jeep Cherokee, a 47-year-old Somerville man, was not operating the vehicle at the time of the crash and had opened his door prior to Ms. Phillips striking it.
The investigation also concluded that the owner of the Jeep was likely not able to see Ms. Phillips in the roadway prior to opening the door. The investigation revealed Ms. Phillips entered the roadway from the sidewalk behind the Jeep and that the owner’s view was likely clear of the bicyclist before he opened the door. Investigators further concluded that Ms. Phillips likely would not have seen the open door from her position on the sidewalk before entering Cambridge Street. Investigators ultimately concluded that the collision with the landscaping truck was unavoidable.
A review of the video evidence and of the damage to the door of the Jeep support the conclusion that door was already open at the time of the collision. One witness to the crash also stated that door was open for, “a couple of seconds” prior to the bicyclist entering the roadway by coming off the curb from the sidewalk where she was riding.
Surveillance video obtained from exterior video cameras at Inman Pharmacy, located across the street from the crash scene, can be viewed here:
Investigators’ review of the totality of the evidence in this case determined that the operator of the landscaping truck, a 66-year-old Woburn man, was properly operating the vehicle, and that there was no evidence he was operating over the speed limit at the time of the crash. Investigators concluded that the operator of the truck would have no expectation of this event. Based on the way Ms. Philips entered the roadway, and that she was struck by the rear tires of the car, the operator of the truck could not have avoided the crash.
Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 85 Section 11B, bicyclists are only authorized operation on sidewalks outside business districts when necessary in the interest of safety. Based on the investigation, Ms. Phillips may have been more visible to other persons in the area, including the owner of the Jeep had she been riding her bicycle consistently in the rightmost travel lane as directed by the painted markings on the road surface instead of the sidewalk.
Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 14, the owner of the Jeep, had a responsibility to open his door only when it was reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians. Based on the video evidence and witness statements the owner of the Jeep likely would not have seen Ms. Phillips prior to opening his door. Taking into consideration the speed at which Ms. Phillips was travelling reinforces the conclusion that this crash was unavoidable.
Based on the investigation and all available evidence, no criminal charges or civil motor vehicle infractions will be filed against the owner of the Jeep or the operator of the landscaping truck.
This investigation was conducted by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, State Police Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Section, the Cambridge Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section.