The following statement was read by Sheila Pecor at the Press Conference on February 24, 2004 at the site of Kevin's brutal death. It was followed up eloquently by Senator Melconian proposing the Kevin J. Pecor act whereby driving on a suspended license constitutes negligence and Representative Buoniconti who addressed the Continued without findings portion of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles. To obtain more information on these issues, contact your local Senator and Representative and voice your support. Thank you for your continued interest and support of this very important cause. To contact Ms. Pecor directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Pecor read:
Thank you all for coming, especially our local legislators. I have presented copies of these signed petitions to the DA, Mayor, Police, and both of our local legislators. They are signed by many concerned citizens, including the second driver in my son's accident. They believe that Mr. Martinez should be charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of my son, Kevin. They also believe that there should be legislation so that when a fatality results, it is not so difficult to convict someone who should not have been on the road at all.
Even if I am 100% successful in my endeavors, I cannot possibly attain the results I would like. That would be to have Kevin alive and healthy. Since I cannot attain that, I can do whatever is within my power to help ensure that procedures be implemented and laws enacted that can help prevent one other mother, father, child, friend, bicyclist, runner or person from enduring the same anguish that Kevin, myself, and many others do.
I would like to heighten public awareness of bicyclists' rights on the roadways in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts . I have been working very closely with Massbike personnel, many of whom are here today. According to MGLCh85 Sec 11B, "bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of motor vehicles." MGL also states, "you may overtake only if it is safe to do so. Change lanes to pass if you can't pass safely in the same lane. Leave plenty of room and pass at a safe speed. Do not cross the center line if you can't see the road at least 400 feet in front. Mr. Martinez could not possibly have accomplished this, since the other lane on this narrow road was occupied by another driver. Bicyclists may occupy any part of a traffic lane when their safety warrants it. At least two officers asked me what was the kid doing on his bike. My answer to them is simple. He was exercising his civil right according to MGL. A bigger question is what the hell was Martinez doing on the road. It is my belief that they did not take this as seriously as they could have because they blamed Kevin for being in the lane of travel....the lane of travel which by MGL, he was entitled to. It is not their job to provide their personal opinions, but to enforce the law. They also indicated that Kevin was "more at fault" because he swerved. To quote a Springfield district judge, the question is not whether Mr. Martinez was more negligent than young Pecor, but whether he was 1% negligent."
The second area of concern is to implement procedures or enforce procedures where victims do not have to endure additional pain finding answers. Despite several calls to the WS Police Dept., they did not meet with me or even try to offer me any explanation for at least three weeks. Unanswered questions had already been haunting me for 3 weeks. Many of these questions were answered about two weeks ago, and some still go unanswered. I have repeatedly corresponded with the police department, mayor, and DA's office to no avail trying to attain answers or justice. Two weeks ago, in order to try to attain some answers for myself and get some sense of closure, I painfully listened to the police tapes from the night my son was killed. They were unprofessional, inappropriate, graphic, comments and procedures that no mother should have to listen to concerning her dead child. I had to listen to these crude tapes since the Police would not speak with me, and no one could explain to me the answers to the following questions that I posed to the people who get paid to answer these questions.
The questions I had are:
1. Why was Johnny Martinez not arrested that night? The indication from the tape is that they never ran his driver's license. If in fact that is the case, they subsequently falsified documents.
2. The police told the reporter from the Republican in this taped conversation that Kevin was by a dark wooded area.....yet in the taped conversation between Officer Duffy and A/DA Safford, the accident happened underneath a street light and was very "bazaar". Also, all of the witnesses' statements claim they saw the kid on the bike....
3. The police concluded that Kevin was listening to a headset....I do not know how they came to that conclusion as I found his walkman a month later when I took his dog for a walk.
4. Why was the State Police Reconstruction team not called? Just last week, in a pedestrian accident, the Springfield police called in the state reconstruction team. It is my belief that our local reconstruction person has not even had the specialized training involving accidents with vehicles vs. bicycles. I am not certain of that, but I am certain that he did not take burn marks off the paint on Martinez car to determine the rate of speed or measurements of the sneaker and Kevin's ankle as he was hit so hard he was knocked out of his sneaker.
5. I had requested that they do a lengthier investigation. They supposedly did this, but never even talked to the second driver who told me that he was going 30-35 miles an hour which is over the speed limit and it was apparent to him that the other car was traveling faster as he was 4-5 car lengths ahead. He also is the one who told me that Kevin was stuck hard enough to knock Kevin out of his sneaker and that he does not believe that Martinez even hit his brakes. He does know that Martinez did not immediately stop after hitting Kevin.
6. Also, the 911 call came from a woman who clearly said that she had struck Kevin. Who is this woman and why was she not charged?
7. Why was there no A/DA on the scene? Mr. Safford felt that there would be charges and there should be an A/DA on the scene. The WS Police had an outdated list and the one A/DA they called was not home. They left a message and no one from the DA's office responded. It is my belief that the police department and The DA's office offer a system of checks and balances to each other whereby some of the procedures overlap to avoid errors in the investigation. This did not happen because of an outdated list and the only current person did not answer her phone.
Questions that continue to go unanswered are:
*What right of way laws did Officer Duffy apply in determining that there was no negligence? I believe that our tax monies pay for investigations and that we are entitled to explanations...not just unanswered phone calls and letters.
*Why did it take the police three weeks to meet with me surrounding such an important issue and why with such insensitivity when they did? Also, why was one of these men the traffic sergeant whose peers did not even want him called to the scene the night before as was explicitly stated on the police tapes.
*Why did the Captain tell the paper there would be no charges even before the investigation was through?
*Why even though the driver was "glassy eyed and shaking" was there no blood or alcohol test done?
*Why did they say that there was no indication of speed when Kevin was hit so hard he was knocked out of his sneaker and flew across the car into the middle of the road?
I ask the DA, the Mayor, and the Chief of Police "What procedures have been or are going to be put in place to ensure that the same deficiencies do not occur again?"
The final piece of this petition includes the implementation of legislation which would have eliminated all of the above. They involve automatic negligence when operating on a suspended license involves a fatality and a mandatory blood alcohol test on any driver involved in a fatality. Both Sen. Melconian and Rep. Buoniconti have agreed to speak.
Thank you again for your help and hopefully, together, we can prevent this from happening again.