Oh, nuts: Truck loses brakes, careens across Beacon, plunges onto Common

Truck on steps down to Boston Common

Truck plunge. Photo by Goodrica.

In what will go down in the record books as one of the most Boston of truck crashes ever, a driver from Georgia who reports getting discombobulated by a GPS that put him on Storrow Drive somehow wound up near the top of Beacon Hill from which he rolled down Walnut Street and then was unable to stop as his 18-wheeler plowed across Beacon and down some stairs onto the Common, around 11:50 a.m.

Police report no injuries, but emergency crews concerned about the truck's fuel tanks had waders evacuated from Frog Pond. Extra police were summoned to keep crowds of curious bystanders away as the BPD truck team and firefighters figure out how to stabilize the truck and get it removed.

"Well, you don't see a truck crashed into Boston Common every day," notes Sara, who photographed the truck from the ground:

Truck on the Common

Boston firefighters first had to stabilize the truck before the fuel tanks could be emptied:

Truck on the CommonL Firefighters

It takes a big tow truck to remove a big tractor, as Elizabeth shows us:

Truck on the Common being towed away

In fact, it takes more than just a big tow truck, as Chrissy reports:

Truck on the Common being towed away

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Comments

Wait

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Why the hell would a truck go down Joy, btw?

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In Provincetown I once

In Provincetown in the early morning I once watched a trailer truck do a u-turn on Commercial St. , and then drive down that narrow one-way in the wrong direction.
And by the way, who foots the bill for all the disruption, cops, firemen, etc?

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20 point turn???

Maybe it drove up Chestnut. Probably did drive up Mount Vernon. There is no way a truck that size could have turned from Mount Vernon coming down the hill.

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Yeah, but if it went up

Yeah, but if it went up Chestnut, how the heck did it make the corner of Chestnut and Walnut to go plunging down to the Common like that? Report says that it came down Joy Street, which would have meant that it had to have come up Mt. Vernon. Joy Street is one way, the wrong way, between Cambridge and Mt. Vernon.

There's almost no way this guy could have been using a commercial GPS. You should lose your CDL for using a regular GPS to navigate a commercial vehicle.

ETA: Now the article says Walnut, when I could have sworn it said Joy Street initially. So, it's an even better question: how did that truck make those corners???

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Mount Vernon from Charles is two lanes going south east.

I would guess you can make the turn from Mount Vernon if you use the sidewalk. And in the summer time there are fewer cars parked in that area, although when I drove down Walnut this morning at 7:30 it was pretty full, didn't really note how many cars were on Mount Vernon.

Better idea

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As this "driver relied on a consumer grade GPS" theme seems to be a common thread (no pun intended) in incidents like these, then why doesn't the government require that the GPS manufacturers to provide commercial-grade information in every unit they sell?

Does it really cost companies that much more to develop the software for a "commerical" unit than it does for a "civilian" one?

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Actually

> Does it really cost companies that much more to develop the
> software for a "commerical" unit than it does for a "civilian" one?

It is not so much the software, but the data. Commercial GPS companies have to gather a lot more data (about places that trucks should and shouldn't go, for instance) and have to expend more manpower keeping current.

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Point taken.

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However, given the number of units these companies sell, the "too expensive to do this" argument doesn't really wash with me.

Apparently so Swirly

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Call it another consequence of increased laziness, the continued dumbing down of society, and the insatiable need for instant gratification..

Your comment reminds me of when I took driver's ed in 1978. In one of the last days of the classroom portion of the course, the instructor gave each of us a set of road maps (the AAA multi-state ones) and a randomly chosen destination (they were all major cities). Each student's task was to choose a route from the driving school office (which was in Lynn) to the destination we were given. We had to then explain our route, identify the major junctions along it where we changed roads, and indicate why we chose that particular route. And we were given no more than twenty minutes to complete this assignment.

Well, I started reading road maps at the age of four after discovering a early 1950s pre-Interstate Highway System road atlas in the credenza in our front hall. By the age of seven, I was the keeper of the road maps and official "assistant navigator" on long car trips down the east coast. Needless to say, I easily completed the assignment. As I recall, I was also one of only seven people (in a class of thirty) who completed the assignment in the time allotted to us.

Looks like the trailer is a

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Looks like the trailer is a car carrier, the type that people hire to transport their owned cars to another home , like in Florida. Not the type of trailer that would come from the rail yard or the assembly plant. Maybe a resident on the Hill had there car shipped up from winter quarters . The driver just followed instructions or GPS to the destination and had to get hisself out of there.He got off the Hill , so he is some kind of good. Maybe compromised his brakes doing all the backing up and pulling forward,or coming down the hill. Tough area, tough scenario, similar to Mission Hill .
( See Ladder 26 , RIP Lt. Kevin Kelley ).

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Why would they deliver to the door?

I contacted a number of carriers before I decided to drive the Mazda back from the west coast. They all ship to a near-freeway drop point (like the Charlestown facility, truck depot, or used car lot). The idea was that I would need to go there to pick the car up. Same thing on the Portland end - I would need to drive it to where it would be loaded.

If I wanted to-the-door service, I would have to pay extra for them to drive it to the door and retrieve their driver.

Makes me wonder if the guy was just lost.

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Yeah, I was just going to say

Yeah, I was just going to say the same thing. Two people I know have shipped cars, and they both have had to bring the car to the shipper.

Makes me wonder if this guy was heading to a street in an industrial area that happens to share a name with a street in Beacon Hill (I'm not mentioning particulars because I don't know which street that could be, but given Boston's propensity for giving the same name to different streets in different neighborhoods, this would not be out of the question.)

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Many years ago on of my

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Many years ago on of my neighbor's son moved back from California and had his car shipped directly to door. It was delivered by a truck similar to the one shown in the photos accompanying this post. Though I don't remember it being that long.

What?!?

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You mean you didn't tow your Mazda back with your bike?

Where can we find the lost brakes?

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Why are police assuming that the truck malfunctioned? Has it been inspected? Or is this a case of the driver not knowing how to properly use air brakes? The bed is empty - there's no reason that the truck shouldn't have been able to stop.

Is the crash going to be investigated? If the brakes are found to be working fine, will the driver be charged for putting many, many people at risk?

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It Received A Boston Police Escort Across Oak Island

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I heard the sound of sirens coming up North Shore Road, but then was surprised to see it was a Boston Police car, because we're not in their area code.

Thanks to Universal Hub's up-to-the-minute coverage, I immediately recognized the trailer being towed by the large tow-truck, speeding along behind the police car. Following behind that, was a Boston Police "ambulance-style" vehicle, also with lights and sirens blaring.

I'm guessing it was being taken up to some special forensic garage, perhaps in Lynn. Since no one was killed in the accident, they'll want to go over the vehicle with a fine-tooth comb and find everything they can to file charges against the driver.

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Why are you automatically assuming that

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the driver must have been at fault here, or that there was no reason the truck shouldn't have been able to stop?

However, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and presume that you, like the vast majority of people out there, have no clue as to how large trucks actually work, or how easily things can go wrong with them no matter how well maintained the truck is or how skillful and cautious the driver is.

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I can sympathize

with an out of town trucker who just got himself into a bucket of tar doing his job. Getting that truck onto that street was a miracle. Though while performing that miracle he may have overheated and locked up his air brakes.

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Incidents like this always remind me

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of the song "Give Me Forty Acres (And I'll Turn This Rig Around)"

He was headed into Boston
In a big long diesel truck
It was his first trip to Boston
He was havin' lots of luck ....

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Then we aren't the only ones

Have no clue how large trucks actually work or how easily things can go wrong ...

I'm betting the driver is in that category, too, given where he tried to drive it.

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Put yourself in the driver's position

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You're unfamilar with Boston streets, have apparently become totally lost, and wind up on a street (Mount Vernon) that is wide enough to fit your vehicle, provided you continue to drive in a straight line. Suddenly, you come to an intersection and are forced to choose from one of three options:

Option 1 - Ignore the DO NOT ENTER signs and continue straight. Your vehicle still fits on the street, but you're risking a head-on collision.

Option 2 - Attempt to turn around. This is likely impossible without damaging your truck, other vehicles, and/or street hardware.

Option 3 - Ignore the NO TRUCKS sign and make a right turn. This will get you back to a through street (Beacon) and hopefully out of this area.

So, which would you do in this situation?

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The true Bostonian solution

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The true Bostonian solution is to back up all the way back to Charles, but I somehow doubt that this would be the trucker's first idea (plus, it's obviously not exactly easy to back an 18-wheeler down a narrow street, especially if you don't have a helper guiding you and keeping traffic out of your way).

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1. Stop the vehicle

2. Contact the police

3. Be prepared to pay (big time) for whatever police (and other services) are necessary to get back where you belong.

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The big problem wasn't

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The big problem wasn't disobeying the "no trucks" sign. It was the crash at the end.

The best method

I grew up with people who drove trucks. The usual career path was lumber truck to big rig long haul. By far the best answer is to not get in the mess to start with. In other words, if you are going to an unfamiliar area in an unfamiliar city, you plan your route in advance. You can do this while you eat breakfast. It isn't hard. You can even program it into a gps for the audio cueing.

You can also pull over, get on the radio, and get other people in trucks or even the police to give you some guidance.

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What about just not making

What about just not making the turn, dealing with Charles Street, pulling over where you can, and getting some help?

We've all been lost, or in a bad spot driving, and that is what I normally do. Keep going until its safe to stop.

Eek

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Those are the steps I take to work everyday. Just went out to look around, but I wish I could have stayed long enough to see it towed out. It looks like they're not even sure how to do it.

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No trucks sign

I drive Walnut St at least 4 days a week, never noticed the no trucks sign. But I am not driving a truck. However if a truck is at that intersection there are no good alternatives.

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OMG

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THE BIKE LANE IS BLOCKED!

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What bike lane?

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Lol, troll.

You think the city actually put a bike lane on Beacon?

No way! It clashes with the historic district and might interfere with the driving of historic BMWs.

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Still in play

And still desperately needed if they want to be serious about closing off the common itself.

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Let's hope not

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And by the way, say the hell out of the Common.

You have a deal

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Just don't be that asshole who doesn't like cyclists taking the lane on Charles Street and leans on your horn.

We have a right to the roads.

Too bad for you.

Mystery solved

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"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth." Therefore, it was a teleportation accident. Solved -- booyah.

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At least he saw the low clearance sign

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So I'm guessing this driver turns onto the storrow ramp from Beacon by the Feedler foot bridge. He misses the smaller no truck signs, is moving along and the sees the much more prominent danger low clearance sign. So he bails out just before the sign onto Mt Vernon. He should have taken a right onto Charles at that point, but decided to chance it and go straight to avoid a turn.

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That's my guess too

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Of course, irony of all ironies, if he had ignored the low clearance sign he would have been better off, and could have ditched at Cambridge Street. As to why he didn't make a right on Charles, all I can guess is traffic was backed up and he didn't want to risk a turn?

I have to give the driver credit for not getting stuck on the hill, and ditching down those stairs to avoid taking out the fence. I'm curious though, one would think jake brake + downshifting could have stalled out the truck before crossing Beacon, unless he had no warning his air was gone (or his breaks cut out at the very top of the hill and he was just SOL).

Perhaps it's time that the asinine traffic patterns on Beacon Hill to discourage driving through there in a coherent manner be removed. I get that the one ways are to keep people from using the neighborhood as a shortcut, but it's not exactly a good shortcut to begin with, and at this point there is probably MORE traffic from people being lost and endlessly looping around than there would be if the streets made sense. See also: last block of Marlborough St, streets around the Common, most of downtown crossing.

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question

Though I work within blocks of this, I drive very rarely, so I'm going to defer to all of you who drive around Beacon Hill/Downtown every day:

I would have guessed that there was no way a truck this big could legally get onto Beacon at that point. I totally buy the GPS explanation, but even so, that would mean that the GPS directed him on to roads he could not legally drive, and he went past signs telling him the same. Is that correct? Maybe I'm assuming more weight/height limits than actually exist there.

****So he was trying to get on to Storrow. Can't see any problems with THAT.

I wish I had thought of this first

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I saw the story on the Globe's fb feed just now. One of the commenters asked if someone had sold him the parking space via Haystack :)

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Zookeeper2

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Guys, they're just filming the sequel to ZooKeeper.

Oh, you didn't see it either? Well, Kevin James flies down Joy street on an adult bigwheel and down the stairs. I didn't actually *see* the movie, but walked by as they were filming that scene on the steps on my way to work.

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Haystack

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I heard the driver was in a bidding war on haystack for a parking spot. Beacon Hill parking sure can be tough.