By Brian R. Ballou, Globe Staff EVERETT Diagnosed with throat and lung cancertwo weeks ago, Marie Stewart kept at her job as a school crossingguard, despite almost daily close brushes with traffic, because sheloved the children so much, relatives said. She was helping about a half-dozen elementary students cross FerryStreet Wednesday morning when a Massachusetts Water ResourcesAuthority pickup truck struck her. Stewart later died from herinjuries. A big part of my life is gone, Neal Stewart, her husband of52 years, said Wednesday night. |
What can I say? My wife is gone.I don t know what I m going to do. Earlier in the day Stewart s son-in-law, Scott Poliskey, had beenbriefed by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital. She s never coming back, he said. She s never coming homeagain. Poliskey said Stewart suffered head trauma.
He said that the familyhad gathered at her bedside at Mass. General, and that clergy haddelivered last rites. Everett police said in a statement Wednesday night that they hadbeen notified by Mass. General that Stewart was pronounced dead at6:11 p.m.
Stewart had been on the job for only seven months. She was dressedthe usual way Wednesday, wearing a bright-orange vest with a whitestripe and holding a large stop sign as she stepped out into FerryStreet at its intersection with Cherry Street at 8:05 a.m. to usherthe children through a marked crosswalk. She was struck immediately, before the children had entered thecrosswalk, Everett police said.
Nearby residents and shop owners heard a high-pitched tire squeal,then a horrifying scream. Some looked out their windows; othersrushed outdoors. They saw the diminutive 71-year-old grandmother lying on her side,her eyes open. Blood trickled from her head. The students ran toward their nearby school, some crying, somescreaming, nearly all wearing looks of shock on their faces astheir backpacks bounced on their backs.
Neighbor Michael Ricci said he was in his house when he heard thetires squeal. He looked toward the intersection and saw Stewartlying in the street, bleeding. Stewart, a grandmother of nine, had a grandmotherly relationshipwith the children she protected from traffic. She sent them to school in the morning, then home in the afternoon,with beaming smiles, residents said.
State Police conducted an investigation at the scene, and haveanalyzed the white GMC 2500 HD pickup. Authorities are planning to interview the driver, John E. Mitchell,67, of Dorchester, who has worked for the MWRA for 23 years. Mitchell was transported to Whidden Memorial Hospital in Everettafter the accident for observation. Ria Convery, an MWRA spokeswoman, said Mitchell was distraught buthad been released from the hospital Wednesday.
He had a cleandriving record at work, MWRA officials said. Mitchell s job was to deliver fuel to work sites in the region,said John Vetere, the authority s deputy chief operating officer,who visited the scene of the accident. The executive director of the MWRA said Wednesday night thatauthority workers were thinking of Stewart s family. This is a tragedy that saddens everyone who is involved, Frederick A. Laskey said when reached by phone.
We have heavyhearts and are shedding a collective tear for Mrs. Stewart, hesaid. According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Mitchell s drivinghistory includes several violations spanning about 26 years. Mitchell has had three surchargeable accidents and two speedingviolations and was once cited for failure to stop. All theoffenses, spanning from 1983 to 2009, occurred in Boston.
Lieutenant Paul Landry of the Everett Police Department said thatno charges have been filed against Mitchell, and that theinvestigation is ongoing. Stewart had started chemotherapy treatments Monday at MassachusettsGeneral Hospital and went back Tuesday. She was scheduled for another treatment Wednesday. Poliskey said that his mother-in-law had become weakened by thetreatments, but that her job invigorated her because she lookedforward to the interaction with the children from George KeverianElementary School. But Stewart also realized that her job, which required stoppingrush-hour traffic, had its dangers.
She often complained about how some commuters would blow by her asshe attempted to do her job. Every single day she would come home and say how dangerous it wasand how she almost got hit, Poliskey said. Globe correspondent Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report.Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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