BILLERICA (CBS) – Three people were killed and nine others were seriously hurt when a Jeep Grand Cherokee sped through a crowded auto auction in Billerica Wednesday morning.
Records show the business has a short list of federal safety violations.
In 2014, OSHA cited Lynnway Auto Auction for two “serious” violations when an inspection revealed it “failed to require the use of traffic control devices while employees performed maintenance task among moving vehicles.”
The initial fine was $6,300 but was later reduced to $2,200, records show. An OSHA spokesman said the violations were corrected and the case was closed. There is no information on any other inspections at the location.
There are also questions about whether there was some sort of mechanical failure with the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Auto safety expert Sean Kane researched complaints filed with NHTSA and found 226 incidents alleging unintended acceleration in 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander vehicles.
“It’s been a consistent model with unintended acceleration events,” Kane said.
In 2006, leaders in Connecticut urged federal regulators to probe possible acceleration flaws in Jeep Grand Cherokees after a 52-year-old man was run over and killed by one in a car wash.
Wrongful death attorney Doug Sheff raised questions about how close customers get to moving vehicles during the crowded events, noting the margin for error is slim if something goes wrong.
“How was the public protected from the moving vehicles?” Sheff asked. “Were there barriers set up that could’ve been a shield between the crowd and the moving vehicles? We don’t let pedestrians walk in the middle of traffic and we shouldn’t let them approach these vehicles moving by at any rate of speed.”
Last year, the National Auto Auction Association started offering training courses to promote safety awareness and accident prevention.
“Busy auto auctions have the potential to be hazardous, especially those unaccustomed to the work environment of the lanes,” a release on the web site said.