After several of her employees were arrested following a company holiday party, including one who is now accused of being responsible for a fatal car crash, the president of a Rockland, Massachusetts, company provided new details Wednesday about what transpired that night in December.
In an email to employees, Hi-Way Safety Systems president Kathy Delong wrote that GPS data from a crumpled company truck shows an employee driving the vehicle stopped at a liquor store and a bar in Marshfield on the evening before the crash.
The employee, 31-year-old Gregory Goodsell, then attended a "private gathering in Pembroke," according to the email.
The message does not describe where the gathering occurred, though a source with knowledge of the party told the NBC10 Boston Investigators workers gathered at Delong's home in Pembroke.
Police say Goodsell offered a similar account, allegedly telling officers he drank and did cocaine at a holiday party at his boss's house in Pembroke.
According to police, Goodsell allegedly slammed his company truck into a Subaru at an intersection on Route 139 in Pembroke several hours later, leaving 13-year-old Claire Zisserson, of Plymouth, dead, and another girl riding in the Subaru seriously injured.
Police say Goodsell, who faces nine criminal charges, including manslaughter and driving drunk, acknowledged that he was severely impaired after the 6:50 a.m. crash, allegedly telling officers, "I know I shouldn't have been driving. I can't believe I did this. I drank way too much."
Goodsell pleaded not guilty to the charges and is due to appear in court next in February.
Hi-Way Safety Systems has been under scrutiny in the wake of the crash, and a string of other incidents involving workers who attended its holiday celebrations in December.
According to Delong's email, the company hosted a reception at the Knights of Columbus building in Pembroke on Dec. 28. Workers also gathered at Delong's home in Pembroke the same night, a source close to the company told NBC10.
In the hours that followed, one employee was arrested on charges of driving drunk in Hanover and another, 41-year-old Joseph Amaral, died after being found unresponsive at a hotel in Rockland. A coworker told police Amaral attended the company's holiday party, according to court records.
Police also charged a Hi-Way Safety Systems worker who was staying at the same hotel with disorderly conduct after he allegedly refused to cooperate with their investigation into Amaral's death.
In its only public statement since the crash, Hi-Way Safety Systems said Goodsell, the driver charged in the Pembroke crash, was fired for violating multiple company policies, including unauthorized use of a company vehicle. The company said coworkers tried to take the keys away from Goodsell, but didn't provide details about where and when that encounter happened.
More Coverage of the Pembroke OUI Crash
The NBC10 Boston Investigators recent coverage of Hi-Way Safety Systems
In her message to workers this week, Delong wrote that the company had arranged safe transportation options for workers on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29, such as taxis and ride-share services. Goodsell "both refused an arranged ride and refused to surrender keys to the vehicle he used without authorization," she wrote.
Hi-Way Safety Systems has been a contractor and subcontractor on state road construction projects, but in the wake of the crash, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said it revoked the company's prequalification status, making it ineligible to bid on new projects.
Any project valued higher than $50,000 requires a contractor to be prequalified.
In her email, Delong wrote that MassDOT is additionally reviewing the company's current contracts and its "long-standing relationship" with the transportation department.
"The timing and combination of these events - and the significant media and public attention they have generated - have made the comprehensive MassDOT review necessary," she wrote. "We will be meeting with MassDOT to discuss the agency's review of our operations later this week."
Delong also announced several policy changes at the company, including mandatory drug testing at the start of the spring roadwork season each April. Additionally, any employee charged with a drug offense, or with driving under the influence, will now be immediately suspended without pay and fired if they're convicted, she wrote.
The company is also working with consultants to revise its safety and employee conduct policies, and to "ensure that all supervisors and management are enforcing these policies in a consistent and uniform manner," according to her email.
Hi-Way Safety Systems will also tighten safety standards for all employees who drive company vehicles.
At a court hearing last week, prosecutors said Goodsell has an extensive driving history of motor vehicle violations. His record includes more than 30 incidents, including a previous accident that led to reckless operation, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges.
Nevertheless, Goodsell had a valid Massachusetts driver's license, which was in good standing with the Registry of Motor Vehicles before the crash.
In light of the tragedy, Delong wrote that the RMV's criteria for holding a license "may not be adequate or stringent enough to ensure driver safety and proficiency for use of commercial vehicles," adding that company standards "must exceed the RMV standard."
In the future, the company also plans to re-examine how it plans company functions, and expects the "programming, activities, and atmosphere of future company-sponsored events will be significantly different," according to the email.
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