Charges expected for teen driver in fatal Oakham crash

OAKHAM — Police said Monday they plan to charge the driver of a car involved in a fatal crash early Sunday morning on Old Turnpike Road.

While Oakham Police Sgt. Kevin Tucker said officers cannot release the names of the driver or the victim who died in the accident because they are juveniles, Quabbin Regional School Superintendent Maureen Marshall identified the driver as Aaron Witkos, 17, of Oakham.

Jeremy Kauppila, 17, of Hubbardston died in the crash, Mrs. Marshall said Sunday. Both boys attended school at Quabbin.

Police said the driver will be charged in juvenile court but they declined to say what charges he will face. He was still hospitalized on Monday.

Police Chief Frederick Gehring said officers are looking into where the boys were before the accident and investigating whether there were other factors in the crash. A police log indicates that officers around 10 a.m. Sunday took statements from someone at 926 Old Turnpike Road, a short distance from the crash. Police had visited the residence around 7:15 a.m., as well, the log said.

It is too early in the investigation to say whether speed or alcohol were factors in the crash, police said. They said both teens were wearing seat belts.

Police believe the two had attended a formal Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps ball in Gardner earlier in the evening with other Quabbin students, the chief said.

Both are members of the ROTC program. Mr. Kauppila was also a member of the football team.

The initial call reporting the accident was made at 4:22 a.m. The caller told a dispatcher he could not stop for the accident. The first emergency personnel arrived nine minutes later and reported that two people were trapped inside a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix that had slammed into a tree.

Firefighters used hydraulic tools to free the teens and Mr. Witkos was flown to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center — University Campus in Worcester. Police said he is expected to survive.

Officer James Albano is headed the investigation, Chief Gehring said, adding that most of the department’s members are assisting. State police from the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, along with the Worcester district attorney’s office, are assisting.

Source: Telegram