A 13-year-old girl has died after an early morning crash in Pembroke, Massachusetts, on Sunday, prosecutors said at the arraignment one of the drivers in the crash on manslaughter and drunken driving charges.
Several people were hospitalized in the two-vehicle crash on Route 139 and one of the drivers, 31-year-old Gregory Goodsell of Marshfield, was arrested, police said Sunday.
Goodsell was arraigned Monday on charges including manslaughter while operating under the influence, prosecutors said at Plymouth District Court Monday.
He allegedly slammed his truck into a Subaru, killing a 13-year-old girl identified by family as Claire Zisseron.
"Claire was a bright, kind and caring girl with a beautiful heart," her mother, Elizabeth Zisseron, said in a statement to NBC10 Boston. "She loved her family, her friends and her teammates. She was a ray of sunshine."
Claire Zisseron's friend, also 13, sustained critical injuries in the crash. Both girls were in the back seat. Elizabeth Zisseron, who was driving, was also injured, but she has since been released from the hospital.
The other girl and the woman remain in critical condition at a hospital, prosecutors said Monday.
Goodsell allegedly acknowledged to police at the scene of the crash that he was severely impaired, saying, according to prosecutors, "I know I shouldn't have been driving, I can't believe I did this. I drank way too much, I'm so sorry."
Reeking of alcohol at the scene of the crash, Goodsell also admitted to having taken cocaine at a Christmas party thrown by his boss, which he was coming from, prosecutors said in court. They added that witnesses said he was speeding before the crash, with one saying he passed them at about 90 mph, "the speed of lightning," in a no passing zone.
Prosecutors said he was found with a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his truck after the crash, which was reported to police around 6:50 a.m. at Church Street and Oak Street
A judge ordered Goodsell be held without bail ahead of a dangerousness hearing Friday.
His father, Jay Goodsell, said he feels bad for the victim's family, who must be dealing with "the most awful thing in the world," and is worried for his son.
"He's a good kid, he just screwed up," the elder Goodsell said.
Pembroke police officers who saw the scene are still having a tough time processing it, Chief Richard Wall said.
“Having to deal with an accident of this magnitude, especially with kids involved," Wall said. "We’re going to be dealing with this for a long time.”
Goodsell was driving a truck marked Hi-Way Safety Systems, which is a contractor and subcontractor on some Massachusetts Department of Transportation projects.
MassDOT said in a statement released Monday that it was reviewing the company's contracts in light of the incident:
"We are saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. MassDOT is extremely disappointed to learn of the circumstances surrounding this incident. We require that all of our contractors adhere to strict standards of safety and we are conducting a review into the status of Hi-Way Safety Systems Inc. with regard to active MassDOT contracts."
The company, which is based in Rockland, provides a range of pavement marking, road safety and traffic control services for private contractors and local, state and federal agencies, according to its website. It also operates offices in New York and Rhode Island, according to the site.
“We attribute our success to our strong working relationships with our customers and employees and our commitment to making our roads and highways safer for everyone,” the website reads.
Hi-Way Safety Systems received close to $31 million from state agencies in Massachusetts over the past 10 years, including payments from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Department of Conservation and Recreation.
According to federal highway safety records, the company has 94 vehicles and 118 drivers. It underwent 29 inspections in the last two years resulting in 42 total violations, including two violations in which drivers were found to be in possession of drugs or alcohol in New Hampshire in May 2019 and in Maine in September 2018.
The company’s vehicles were also previously involved in two crashes, but neither resulted in injuries, according to federal records.
Two of the company's workers also died on the job in recent years.
One employee was trapped between a tractor trailer and loading dock as the truck was reversing at the company's headquarters at 9 Rockview Way in Rockland on Oct. 31, 2016, according to records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA fined the company $12,675 for exposing workers to crushing hazards while they were signaling trailers into the loading dock. It has since contested the penalty.
Another worker was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver while working on the northbound side of Interstate 93 around 2:45 a.m. on June 28, 2016, according to OSHA records. A work crew from Hi-Way Safety Systems was striping portions of the road near Exit 33 at the time. The company was not found to be at fault in the incident, according to OSHA.
Federal safety officials have levied initial fines totaling $54,824 against the company since 2010, and charged it with five serious safety violations, although Hi-Way Safety Systems was later found responsible for only four serious violations after reaching settlements with OSHA. It paid a combined $23,319 in fines as a result, and is challenging a $12,675 fine stemming from the workplace fatality in 2016.