Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley today blamed a poorly maintained firetruck and human error for the death of Boston Fire Lt. Kevin Kelley in January, but said nobody was criminally responsible for Ladder 26's fatal crash into a Huntington Avenue apartment complex.
In a statement, Conley said an 11-month investigation of the crash of Ladder 26 found "every braking device on the truck was compromised to one degree or another at the time of the crash" after years of poor maintenance - and that it had been on the streets for years with bad brakes. The firefighter at the wheel of the truck also had not been properly trained in the use of the truck's air braking system.
Kelley possibly sealed his fate by ordering the truck's driver to keep going straight rather than try to stop by swerving into cars on the narrow street - but Conley praised that as a heroic action that possibly saved the lives of pedestrians and people inside houses along the street. S
Investigators considered charges of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, but Conley said there was no single action that led directly to Kelley's death - and because his office concluded that even if the firefighter at the wheel had received proper training, the truck might still have crashed because the brakes were already in such poor shape.
"Human error, insufficient driver training, the substandard in-house and outside maintenance of Ladder 26, the topography of Parker Hill Avenue, and Lieutenant Kelley’s self-sacrificing determination to protect civilian lives all combined on that fateful day to send a massive piece of firefighting machinery hurtling toward a tragedy that is still felt almost a year later,” Conley wrote in a letter to Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser.