Woman, two children killed in attempt to cross freeway
A Bellingham woman and two young relatives she had picked up for a play date were struck by traffic and killed Friday after they left their car pointed the wrong way on Interstate 495 and tried to cross the freeway on foot, state police and a neighbor said.
Marcelle Thibault, 39; her 5-year-old niece; and her 4-year-old nephew stopped on the northbound side of I-495 Lowell just before 9 p.m. after driving the wrong way, state police said. They then left their Lincoln sedan in the grass and walked onto the freeway, only to be hit twice by other cars.
Troopers are investigating the deaths and did not immediately have an explanation for Thibault's actions, which took place near Exit 37. While state police did not release additional information on the children because of their age, Thibault's neighbor, Nicole Houston, said they were the 39-year-old's niece and nephew, Kaleigh and Shane Lambert.
All three died despite being rushed to area hospitals by ambulance, state police said.
The other drivers were identified as Jennifer Jolly, 47, of Lowell, Mass., and James Scammon, 43, of Portsmouth, N.H. Jolly's Buick Sedan slammed into the victims first, followed by Scammon's Saturn station wagon.
"She's obviously very upset," said Jolly's brother, Joseph Jolly of Lowell. He declined further comment.
Neither Jolly nor Scammon were injured in the accident, which left the northbound lanes of I-495 closed for three hours. Thibault was taken to Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, then transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Her niece and nephew were taken to Lawrence General Hospital.
Thibault's family had posted a note asking reporters not to bother them, and they did not return a phone call seeking comment. But Houston, their neighbor, said Marcelle Thibault was a former star field hockey player for Bellingham High School and a former gymnastics teacher. She said her neighbor had a knack for connecting with kids and had gone north Friday to pick up her niece and nephew for a neighborhood doll party at her house the next day.
"She loved children," Houston said. "Kids loved her."
The deaths of Thibault and her young relatives are being looked at by detectives, crime scene investigators, and an accident analysis and reconstruction team, state police said.
For now, Houston said she and her family had not yet made sense of the news.
"Just sad and stunned and shocked," she said.
Michael Morton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-634-7582.