Andover

Driver of truck that struck and killed 5-year-old Andover girl won't face criminal charges

Sidney Olson was with a group of people near Elm Square when the crash occurred on May 9

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The driver of a tractor-trailer truck that struck and killed a 5-year-old girl from Andover, Massachusetts, earlier this year will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced Friday.

Separately, the family of Sidney Olson is pursuing civil charges against the driver, a family attorney told NBC10 Boston.

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Sidney was with a group of people at the intersection of Main and Elm streets in the crosswalk near Elm Square when the crash occurred around 5:15 p.m. on May 9, according to authorities. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck's driver stopped after the crash and cooperated with police.

"The investigative findings do not provide sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against the driver of the tractor trailer," the Essex County District Attorney's Office said in a statement released Friday morning. "The driver was stopped at the intersection. As he began to advance forward on the light turning green, he was unable to see Ms. Olson traveling on her scooter in the crosswalk below. The driver was not impaired by any substances and immediately came to a controlled stop after the collision."

The district attorney's office said its investigation was conducted in conjuction with state and Andover police. It included a review of the conclusions of an accident reconstruction expert, video from inside the tractor-trailer, photos from the scene, a digital survey of the scene, mechanical inspection of the truck, toxicology screens of the driver, an evaluation of the traffic signals and pedestrian control unit at the intersection, the results of a visibility study and witness interviews.

The district attorney's office said the results of their investigation were provided to the family's attorneys.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the Olson family for their immesurable loss," the district attorney's office said.

Community members said that the intersection can be difficult and confusing.

Sidney's family released a statement back in May saying they were walking to an art class when the crash took place. The girl and another member of the family were in the crosswalk, with the walk sign showing, following a route they had taken "hundreds of times before."

"The rest was a blur, and Sidney was struck by a truck and killed, leaving an impossible void in our lives," the family said in their statement.

Calling her a "fiercely creative" explorer who loved making art, picking flowers and the music of Taylor Swift, her family said at the time that their "greatest hope was that Sidney’s boundless love for everyone encourages others to look out for the common good of our community following this tragedy."

A 5-year-old girl was hit and killed by a tractor-trailer in a busy Andover intersection Tuesday.

They also echoed concerns that had been shared in the Andover community following the crash, that the intersection is known to be dangerous and should be fixed.

"This intersection has long been considered dangerous," the family said. "While we’re not engineers, we also know our community can do better. We hope the town makes fast changes to that and other high-traffic intersections so no one has to experience the pain we feel right now."

The family said in a public statement Friday that they would be holding a run on Thanksgiving Day in Andover to commemorate Nov. 19, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Read the full statement below.

And a family attorney, Jennifer Denker, told NBC10 Boston in an email that the "devastated" family is "pursuing civil claims against the driver, as well as the trucking company that owned the truck in question, which was not equipped with the safety features available that could have saved Sidney’s life that fateful day."

This statement was released by Sidney's parents, Eric Olson and Mary Beth Ellis, through the Essex County District Attorney’s Office:

Parents of 5-year-old crash victim call for action following conclusion of investigation

We’re relieved to reach closure in the criminal investigation. When Sidney died, it left an immeasurable hole in our lives. We miss her giggly laugh, dimpled smile, and kind heart. We know this crash devastated everyone involved, and we’re thankful for the tough work done by the Andover police department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Essex County District Attorney.

Today’s decision doesn’t change the terrible truth: The crash that killed Sidney, like 42,000 US traffic deaths last year, was preventable.

We’re fortunate to live in Andover where public officials care, and we’re grateful for their collaboration on safety improvements to Elm Square, the intersection where Sidney was killed, and reduced speeds throughout town. Unfortunately, that’s not common, in spite of the fact that these are known solutions for preventing deaths and serious injuries.

That’s why on Sunday November 19th, our charity, the Sidney Mae Olson Rainbow Fund, is calling for “Safe Streets for People” on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. We’ll commemorate the day with “Sidney’s Rainbow Run” in Andover on Thanksgiving Day.

Small changes make a big difference. Simple safety features, like cross-view mirrors that are now required on state-owned trucks in Massachusetts thanks to the vulnerable road users law, could have saved Sidney’s life.

The solutions to these problems exist. We just need to implement them.

Billions in funding for improvements is available through state and federal programs. If you’re a resident, share your stories with local officials. It makes a difference. 

Business owners, please recognize that many Massachusetts cities and towns are actually thickly settled neighborhoods, not built for large trucks. Review when and how deliveries happen – and update your trucks with the safety guards, cross-over mirrors, and backup cameras now required on state-owned trucks and proven to help drivers spot people like Sidney.

Legislature, clear the way for automated enforcement, a proven way to reduce deaths and serious injuries used by 26 other states, by passing House Bill 3393.

In life, Sidney wanted nothing more than to bring people together. In her death, we hope we can all work together to implement the proven solutions capable of addressing this public health crisis, making our roads safe and our neighborhoods more livable for all.

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