Billerica Auto Auction Holds Prayer Service, Re-Opens After Fatal Crash – CBS Boston / WBZ

BILLERICA (CBS) — An indoor auto auction re-opened Wednesday for the first time since an SUV crashed and killed four people there last week.

A private prayer service was held at the Lynnway Auto Auction before the start of business at 8:30 a.m.

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Flowers placed inside the Lynnway Auto Auction during the prayer service. (WBZ-TV)

One man who attended told WBZ-TV it was very emotional.

“Just prayers and sympathy for those who lost their lives and the families,” said car dealer Garba A. Suleiman.

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New safety barriers outside the Lynnway Auto Auction Wednesday. (WBZ-TV)

An auto dealer who was inside the auction house Wednesday said there were more security officers and Jersey barriers throughout the building, but that operations were running smoothly.

“It was very emotional. Last week was like, I couldn’t even sleep. It’s such a tragic accident,” security guard Lynette Johnson said.

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A safety barriers inside the Lynnway Auto Auction Wednesday. (WBZ-TV)

“There are barriers between the lanes, big concrete, and they are painted in yellow so that is a big difference,” said bidder Peter Mueller.

Security guard Scott Richards said they’re being more cautious, which he hopes makes everyone less worried.

Four people died and eight were hurt when a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee sped out of control and ran down several people before crashing through a wall on May 3.

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Brenda Lopez (WBZ-TV)

Brenda Lopez, 48, and Pantaleon Santos, 49, both of Rhode Island, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Leezandra Aponte, 36, of Lowell, was rushed to Lahey Hospital where she died. Aponte was a mother of three and it was her first day on the job.

Elliot Rowlands, 50, of Buzzards Bay, was hospitalized for a week and died on Wednesday.

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Leezandra Aponte. (Facebook Photo)

Authorities believe the crash was an accident. But, Lynnway President Jim Lamb said the 76-year-old driver had a suspended license.

The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, told WBZ-TV he believes there was a mechanical failure in his Cherokee.

“All of a sudden the car by itself, it took off and somehow it accelerated. I don’t know if it was the transmission when I put it into drive,” he said, “Or whether it was some sensor under the hood that electronically makes the car go faster or slower.”

The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office is still investigating the crash.

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A witness took this photo moments after the crash. (Witness photo via Christina Hager – WBZ-TV)

Attorney Richard Shalhoub is representing a man who was also run over by a car driven by a Lynnway Auto driver.

“What happened last week could be fairly characterized as an accident waiting to happen,” Shalhoub said.

In 2014, Jesus Restrepo was washing cars in an auction facility when a vehicle smashed into him, causing multiple fractures.

Shalhoub says there are many similarities to last week’s accident.

“Because Lynnway didn’t check the driver’s licenses of employees specifically the gentleman who was driving the vehicle that caused the deaths, caused the injuries, he didn’t have a valid driver license,” Shalhoub said.

Lynnway says it was not aware that the driver in the fatal crash did not have a license.

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