Newton man killed in fiery Brookline crash

Neal Simpson and Erin Clossey

A 79-year-old Newton man was killed and a 52-year-old Wellesley woman seriously injured in a fiery three-car crash in Coolidge Corner Thursday afternoon. Five children and a 32-year-old woman also suffered minor injuries, according to Brookline Police Capt. John O'Leary.

Theodore Green was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m. at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Lisa Zizzi remains in critical but stable condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, O'Leary said.

Green was headed southbound on Harvard Street when his Honda Odyssey struck a Lexus driven by Lisa Zizzi, according to O'Leary. Preliminary investigations indicate speed was a factor in the crash, he said.

Zizzi was illegally parked in front of a Harvard Street frame shop, "and he hit that with such force, we don't know how many times it toppled over, but about 30 to 40 yards down the street it actually was righted up, but it burst into flames," O'Leary said.

The Lexus in turn hit a small SUV driven by a 32-year-old woman and containing five children, ages 6 months to 16 years, O'Leary. All five childen, and the adult, were treated at Children's Hospital, and all were released except for the baby, who was kept overnight as a precaution, he added.

The SUV was double parked, also illegally, O'Leary said.

Coolidge Corner was closed to traffic until 10:30 p.m., Thursday, and MBTA C Line passengers were rerouted via shuttle bus down Winchester and St. Paul streets, according to police.

Michael Burstein told the TAB he and his wife were standing at the corner of Stedman and Harvard streets shortly before 5 p.m. when a car came flying by at 55 to 60 miles per hour, heading toward Beacon Street.

"A few seconds later, we heard an enormous crash -- a tremendous boom -- emanating from Coolidge Corner. Then we saw smoke and flames," Burstein said.

They headed in the direction of the crash scene, where, within two or three minutes Burstein estimated, Brookline emergency personnel had arrived, locked everything down and began battling flames.

"Brookline emergency services personnel were amazing," he said.

"It was really a frightening moment," Burstein added.

Mark Miller, a Winchester Street resident, said he had been picking up his daughter from the Devotion School and was walking north on Harvard Street when he heard a sound, looked up and saw three cars in the accident. The first car was almost immediately engulfed in flames, Miller said.

People rushed to the car with fire extinguishers taken from nearby businesses and started to spray the vehicles, he said. Miller added he didn't see anyone inside, but he heard people screaming that there was a woman in the car.

A second car started to catch on fire right before police and fire arrived, Miller said.

"It's so congested around here, I'm surprised there aren't more things like this," he said.

O'Leary said the Fire Department credits the bystanders with preventing Zizzi from being further burnt.

Newton TAB