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Driver Cited After Truck Scrapes O’Neill Tunnel Ceiling

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV
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Emmy award-winning Beth Germano is a general assignment reporter fo...
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BOSTON (CBS) – A Quincy woman was nearly hit by falling debris after a tractor trailer scraped the ceiling of the O’Neill tunnel in Boston, and the driver was warned he was overheight before he entered.

Hillary Doolittle was travelling southbound Sunday night when she noticed the truck slowing down, and cars around the vehicle started braking. “It was one of those quick reflex things. I needed to get out of the way,” she tells WBZ-TV.

Despite the thirteen-foot, nine-inch height signs on every tunnel entrance, and despite tripping the sensors that warn trucks they are too tall, State Police say the driver went in anyway. As he did he scraped the ceiling raining down pieces of what turned out to be fireproofing.

“It looked like uneven chunks of something grey,” said Doolittle. “I worried there’s something falling and you don’t know how much else is going to fall.”

According to MassDOT the sensors detect some 15,000 possibly overheight vehicles entering the tunnels every year, resulting in at least a dozen strikes.

“I think trucks have a responsibility to know the height of their vehicle,” said Doolittle.

In this case, she said there were too many what-ifs, as she worried about something coming through her windshield or even the sunroof.

“The first thing that goes through your mind is that this has happened before. I don’t want to be part of this, I’m getting out of here.”

The truck operator, a 43-year-old Milford, Connecticut man has been cited for having an overheight truck. MassDOT says inspectors found no damage to the ceiling.

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