Investigators are looking for answers after a vehicle plowed into a crowd and crashed through a wall at an auto auction site in Billerica, Massachusetts, on Wednesday morning.
Police retured to Lynnway Auto Auction on Charter Way Thursday to see if the accident was caused by operator error, a medical issue or a mechanical problem.
"The information we have right now suggests that this was a trautagic accident," Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said on Wednesday. State police said there is no indication that it was an intentional or terrorist act.
The victims who were killed include a man and two women, Ryan said. She said nine others suffered injuries, one of them life-threatening; however, a Lahey Hospital doctor said two people were in critical condition.
As of Thursday morning, there were three survivors remaining at the Lahey Clinic, with two in critical condition and one stable. Lowell General Hospital confirms one patient from the Billerica crash was still there Thursday morning after treating and releasing seven other patients Wednesday. The remaining patient's condition is unknown.
The accident occurred at 10:13 a.m. at the Lynnway Auto Auction on Charter Way. There were 1,500 people in the building when the vehicle crashed.
Although the names of the deceased victims have not been released by authorities, the brother of Leezandra Aponte of Lowell said his sister was killed in the car auction crash.
Ryan said an auction was going on at the time of accident, just like every Wednesday. She said vehicles, which are only driven by employees in order to prevent accidents, are moved through the building during the day so people can bid on them. She said a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee was inside the auction site and someone was moving it when they lost control and hit a wall.
She said the driver was an older male, in his seventies, and that he was an employee at the auction site.
Although the cars generally don't travel more than five miles per hour, witnesses tell us the Jeep may have been going as fast as 20 miles per hour before it fatally struck three people standing near the safe lane.
Lynnway Auto Auction President Jim Lamb expressed his company's shock and sadness through a statement.
"We are stunned at the loss of life and serious injuries that occurred to our patrons. We are heartbroken that this accident occurred at our premises with a vehicle driven by one of our drivers," Lamb said.
Lamb said that the driver, who has not been named, was very distraught and would not be driving cars at the auction until the investigation was complete.
Investigators said they don't know yet exactly what caused the driver to accelerate. The driver was not hospitalized.
Photo Credit: NBC Boston