MANSFIELD, Mass. (WPRI) — Two people died early Wednesday morning after a head-on collision on a Mansfield highway.
According to Massachusetts State Police, a Nissan Sentra traveling northbound on I-495 South struck an oncoming vehicle just after 2 a.m. in the area of Exit 13.
Police said the wrong-way driver was a 24-year-old woman from Middleboro, while the driver of the second car was a 27-year-old man from Taunton. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police withheld their identities pending family notification.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. It’s not yet clear where the wrong-way driver entered the highway. Police said they are looking into whether speed, alcohol, drugs, confusion or a medical condition led to the catastrophic event.
Wrong-way driver prevention
Concerned about wrong-way crashes, Rhode Island spent millions to upgrade signage and striping at over 200 ramps – and placed cutting-edge detection equipment at 24 high-risk locations.
RIDOT said the system has prevented dozens of crashes. The state acted after 13 people died in wrong-way collisions since 2008. Our Boston affiliate WBZ-TV said Massachusetts saw more than 80 deaths in less time.
MassDOT told WBZ it decided not to go with the equipment because it is too costly. Instead, the agency planned to lower wrong-way signs to make then more visible on roads like 128 and the Expressway.
Back in Rhode Island, the state saw its last wrong-way fatal crash back in May – when a Massachusetts man hit and killed 24-year-old Jamestown police Officer Ryan Bourque in East Greenwich. Bourque had just ended his shift.
Both Bourque, 24, and the other driver – identified as Dejae T. Pizarro, 23, of Bedford, Massachusetts – died as a result of their injuries.
Eyewitness News reached out to MassDOT about the status of that sign-lowering project and whether its reluctance to buy the equipment has changed. We have not yet heard back.