Sister of woman crushed by Meridian Street drawbridge sues city, contractors

Mirna Hernandez says her sister Aura Garcia shouldn't have died on Dec. 31, 2013 - all she was doing was walking across the Meridian Street bridge.

In a lawsuit filed this week in US District Court in Boston, Hernandez charges negligence on the part of both the city and the bridge tender for her 45-year-old sister's death:

The Bridge tender, with deliberate indifference and/or carelessly and negligently operated the Bridge in such a manner that he opened the Bridge without observing if there were any pedestrians on the Bridge prior to opening it in reckless disregard for the safety of the public, which conduct shocks the conscience of a reasonable person.

While walking across the Bridge the bridge began to rise and Plaintiff's decedent, Aura Beatriz Garcia, clung to one of the two bridge plates while the Bridge was opening and screamed out for help. The City of Boston's employee closed the bridge on top of her, crushing Mrs. Garcia and ultimately causing her death.

Her suit also names contractors that did work for the city on the bridge, alleging they were negligent because they failed to provide alarm and other safety systems that would have kept the tender from raising the bridge without first checking for pedestrians - and for failing to train city workers to look for pedestrians just in case.

The suit does not name a specific monetary value:

The heirs at law and next of kin of the decedent are entitled to the fair monetary value of the decedent, including but not limited to compensation for the loss of the reasonably expected net income, services, protections, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice of the decedent and to the reasonable medical, funeral and burial expenses incurred [per federal law].


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PDF icon Complete Hernandez complaint111.21 KB


Was there any determination

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Was there any determination whether the woman hopped over the gates after they were lowered, or whether the gates weren't working and she was completely not at fault.

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Those the only two possibilities?

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Or was the gate closed behind her after she was already well on her way across the bridge?

I don't know what they found, but that would be the most likely scenario. It's certainly the one that gives many pedestrians in the neighborhood nightmares. This isn't like crossing a train track, you know; this is a massive drawbridge and the combined moveable deck length (I just measured on is about 62 meters – about 2/3rds the length of a football field.

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Bells and Gates

They are not enough if somebody is already in the middle of the span ... and the lift operator doesn't look or cannot see if somebody is there.

It is also hard to run if you are quickly being tilted to a high angle. The bridge design itself appears to be inherently dangerous if there are no cameras to allow the operator to see the entire span of sidewalk.

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