Top: Home Page
Up: Table of Contents

Critique of
Boston Herald story on
fatal Dana Laird crash.

[Though the Herald is a tabloid newspaper and has a reputation for sensationalism, this story is more accurate and detailed than the Globe story. A Herald reporter apparently went to the crash scene, as this article quotes an eyewitness directly. Unlike the Globe article, this article avoids editorial bias, and puts the information that Laird was riding in a bike lane adjacent to parked cars near the top. I have a few comments, in the footnotes -- John S. Allen]

Cyclist dies under bus swerving to avoid door

by Doug Hanchett

Wednesday, July 3, 2002

A 36-year-old Cambridge cyclist was killed in Central Square yesterday when she swerved to avoid a car door and went flying under the rear wheel of an MBTA bus on Massachusetts Avenue.[1]

Dana Laird was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the 3:30 p.m. accident, police said.

The 51-year-old Cambridge driver whose car door apparently struck Laird was cited for opening a door into traffic and driving an unregistered vehicle, said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.[2]

T police were not releasing the driver's name as of late last night.

Reggie Riley of Cambridge was waiting for the Route 1 bus to Harvard when he saw it halt suddenly short of its stop.

"I started walking down to see what happened,'' said Riley. "I saw something on the ground and went (closer) to see what it was and I said, 'Oh my God. It's a person.''

Within minutes, hundreds of people lined Mass. Ave., which was cordoned off for hours while investigators tried to determine what happened in the rush-hour accident.

Laird's body, covered by a white sheet, lay for about an hour on the hot asphalt - just feet from her aqua mountain bike.

The bike was next to a black Honda CRV with marks on the door, 'suggesting contact had been made,'' according to Pesaturo. Witnesses said the bike flipped up in the air before the victim went under the bus, indicating she was struck by the opening door.[3]

'Witnesses share the same account - that the door opened, and she swerved,'' he said.

Laird was riding in a designated bike lane that runs parallel to parked cars.

After the accident, the driver hunkered down in a nearby flower shop waiting for his attorney to arrive.

Riley, himself a cyclist, said motorists need to be more careful, especially in a bike-friendly city like Cambridge. '`I got whacked by a door last year and it took me nine months to recover from that,'' he said. '`But that's like a mosquito bite compared to this.''

Laurel J. Sweet contributed to this report.

1) Notice that the Herald indicates that Laird swerved. The Globe does not give any such detail about her actions.

2) The Herald indicates the charges which were filed against the motorist, while the Globe does not.

3) Robert Winters's photos of the door and the bicycle do not show any significant damage. There could have been no heavy impact against the door. It is possible that Laird "flipped up in the air" due to loss of control of the bicycle in an attempt to avoid the door by swerving and/or braking.

Top: Home Page
Up: Table of Contents