By SCOTT JACKSON
The Quincy police officer who was a struck by a vehicle while working a detail on the Fore River Bridge Friday morning is now home from the hospital and expected to make a full recovery.
Det. Thomas Pepdjonovic, a 14-year-veteran of the department, was rushed to Boston Medical Center with what police initially described as serious injuries after being struck by the vehicle around 10:20 a.m. Friday. Sgt. Karyn Barkas on Monday said Pepdjonovic had returned home from the hospital and was expected to make a full recovery.
“He was released from the hospital and is at home and recovering,” she said.
The driver of the vehicle remained on scene and was cooperating with the investigation, Quincy police said.
The Weymouth Police Department was asked to investigate the incident because it involved a Quincy police officer, Barkas said. Weymouth police were not immediately available for comment Monday morning.
The Fore River Bridge was closed to traffic for several hours Friday as Weymouth’s accident reconstruction team began the investigation. The bridge, which carries Route 3A from Quincy into Weymouth, re-opened shortly after 2:30 p.m.
State Police briefly closed a portion of Interstate 93 northbound in Neponset as Pepdjonovic was rushed to the hospital Friday. It reopened around 10:45 a.m. that morning.
By SCOTT JACKSON
The MBTA will provide shuttle bus service to Quincy Center as well as North Quincy while the station in Wollaston is closed, and passengers will be able to board the commuter rail at Quincy Center during rush hour at a discounted price throughout the 20-month period.
The date for the station closure has also been pushed back a week to Monday, Jan. 8, to avoid any conflict with New Year’s Day – the station had been set to close Jan. 2.
State transportation officials joined city and state elected leaders to make the announcement Thursday outside the station, where initial construction work has already begun.
The T had originally announced only shuttle service between Wollaston and North Quincy the former station closed for renovations. Luis Ramirez, the MBTA’s general manager, said the decision to expand the shuttle service to Quincy Center as well was made to help ensure the North Quincy platform does not become too crowded.
“With our ongoing issues of platform crowding at North Quincy, we want to make sure we were minimizing the inconvenience to our customers that best we can,” Ramirez said. “To that end, we wanted to divert our Wollaston customers to both stations to alleviate any additional crowding.”
Riders utilizing the shuttle service should plan on adding 15 to 20 minutes to their commute, he added.
In an additional step to preventing crowding at North Quincy, Ramirez said customers at Quincy Center can take the commuter rail – either inbound trains to Boston or outbound trains headed south – during rush hour for the same fare as a Red Line ride provided they show a valid CharlieCard or CharlieTicket while boarding.
Stephanie Pollack, the state’s transportation secretary, said the decision to postpone the closure one week was based on feedback from residents who were wary of shutting down the station so close to New Year’s Day and Christmas.
“We heard loud and clear that starting right after the holiday week was a bad idea in terms of making sure that people would be aware, in terms of our ability to get the word out the weeks before the closure, and in terms of our ability to test the shuttle routes in real traffic conditions,” Pollack said.
The T will close the station for 20 months to rebuild the platform on site from the tracks up. The closure is meant to bring the station, which first opened in 1971, into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Wollaston station is currently the only station not in compliance with the ADA.
The closure has been controversial in Quincy, where residents at several community meetings have voiced their displeasure with the plan. Pollack defended the decision to close the station entirely during renovations, because it will allow the T to complete the project in less time. The project could take five years or more to complete had the station remained open during renovations, she said.
“It will be less disruptive to our passengers to have the shorter closure than the longer, dragged-out construction project that would be required if we tried to run the trains while we rebuilt the station,” Pollack said.
Trains will continue to pass through the Wollaston station while it is closed but won’t stop there. On select nights and weekends, however, the entire Braintree branch of the Red Line will be closed south of North Quincy while the T rebuilds the Wollaston station and begins demolition of the Quincy Center station’s garage starting in early 2018. Shuttle service will run between Braintree and North Quincy during those periods.
Parking at Wollaston station will be reduced from 538 spaces to 432 during the project.
The station will re-open in the summer of 2019, though construction work will remain after that point. Sen. John Keenan said commuters would have not only a new station, but also new Red Line cars and new signals that will allow for shorter headways between trains.
“When all is said and done, when we get through what we have to get through over the next 20 months, we’re going to have a state-of-the-art Wollaston MBTA station,” Keenan said. “Through it will be not the trains that were running 40 years ago when I was selling newspapers at the bottom of the stairwell here, but a brand new fleet of Red Line trains and those Red Line trains will be guided by a modern, updated signalization program.
“All of that together will increase ridership, increase reliability, and give the commuters of this community and commuters all along the Red Line a first-class, reliable, efficient public transportation system.”
Mayor Thomas Koch credited Gov. Charlie Baker for investing in the Red Line. The Red Line will receive a total of $911 million worth of upgrades over the next several years including the new cars and signals, the Wollaston station renovation, demolition of the Quincy Center garage and work at the Quincy Adams and Braintree stations.
“The Red Line had been ignored for a long, long time,” Koch said. “I used to get into heated discussions with some of my colleagues – mayors around Metropolitan Boston – when they were talking expansion and I was saying ‘we shouldn’t expand anything until we get what we have fixed.’ I appreciate Governor Baker’s commitment and the Legislature’s support – we’re looking at a billion dollars worth of improvements to the Red Line.
“Within a couple years we’re going to have essentially a brand-new Red Line for the residents of the city and the people who use this service.”
A $205 million mixed-use project is also set to begin next year at the North Quincy station’s parking lot. A garage with space for 852 vehicles – equivalent to the number of parking spaces currently on site – will be built in the project’s first phase, followed by 610 apartments and 50,000 square feet of retail space that will envelope the new garage in the second phase.
Keenan said city and state officials are still working on plans to mitigate the impact of the North Quincy project.
“The MBTA continues and the Department of Transportation and the city continue to look at how to best manage that parking situation. There are many options under construction that are all being tested and considered,” Keenan said.
“We expect and we’re going to continue our work to make sure those parking impacts at North Quincy are mitigated.”
To help mitigate the impact, several local elected officials had suggested the T run shuttle bus service directly between Wollaston and JFK/UMass. Keenan said the T had looked into the idea but ruled it out because of traffic on the Neponset Bridge.
“As part of the mitigation package there will be a detail officer assigned to Neponset Circle to help with traffic, but even with that there are substantial delays in getting over the Neponset Bridge,” he said.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) says the flu season has started earlier than usual and recommended that people take steps to prevent the spread of flu.
“Every flu season is different, but usually cases of influenza reach their peak in January, February or even March,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “This year we are seeing a very rapid increase in influenza-like illness across Massachusetts, along with an increase in confirmed flu cases. This suggests that Massachusetts may be having an earlier start. It is important that we all take steps to prevent flu from spreading, including getting a flu shot because it is among the best protection we have.”
This week (December 3-9, 2017) is National Influenza Vaccination Week, a national awareness week focused on highlighting the importance of flu vaccination.
As a reminder, DPH recommends that people:
- Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.
- Wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover their coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home when they are sick with fever and cough or sore throat, if possible.
- Talk to their healthcare provider if they think they have the flu, especially if they have health concerns that make them more likely to develop severe illness when sick with the flu. The doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started early in the course of illness.
The most common symptoms of flu are a fever accompanied by a cough or sore throat. Symptoms can also include body aches, headache, chills, runny nose and feeling very tired. Some people, especially young children, also have diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms last from a few days to up to a week or more.
Flu can be very serious. Every year in the United States, millions of people get the flu, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related illnesses. Some people are at higher risk of serious health problems when they get the flu. This includes pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological and neuromuscular conditions and weakened immune systems. The flu vaccine takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu virus infection.
The flu virus is spread through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose and mouth of someone who coughs or sneezes. If you are close enough to a person with the flu (3-to- 6 feet) when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus and get sick. Flu symptoms start 1 – 4 days (usually 2 days) after a person breathes in the virus.
The flu virus can also live for a short time on things you touch, such as doorknobs, phones and toys. After you touch these objects, you can catch the virus when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. Adults with flu can spread it from about one day before symptoms appear to about one week after. Children can spread the flu even longer after they get sick.
For more information about influenza, visit www.mass.gov/flu.
Detailed weekly flu surveillance reports and other related flu articles are posted on the Mass Public Health Blog.
For questions, call your local board of health, your healthcare provider, or DPH at 617-983-6800.
By SCOTT JACKSON
A Quincy Fire Department lieutenant recently received the department’s highest honor for rescuing a woman from her burning home in September.
Fire Chief Joseph Barron awarded the Role of Merit to Lt. Paul Leonard during a ceremony at department headquarters on Nov. 26. Leonard received the award for rescuing Judy Todd from a Sept. 28 house fire on Huntley Road.
Barron, in his general order commending Leonard, described what happened that night, lauding the lieutenant for bravery in the face of “extreme personal risk” he assumed in rescuing the homeowner.
“Lieutenant Paul Leonard, assigned to Ladder 1, entered the building without the protection of charged hose line. He ascended to the second floor where he found the homeowner, Judy Todd, unconscious,” Barron said. “The lieutenant carried her to safety and placed her, aided by other firefighters, in the care of Brewster Ambulance crews.”
Todd was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital and spent 10 days in the intensive care unit, according to the fire chief. She has since left the hospital.
“As of this writing she is united with family and thankful for a full recovery, able to enjoy this holiday season,” Barron said in his general order. “She extends her thanks and wishes that Quincy’s first responders enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.”
Deputy Fire Chief Gary Smyth, who was on scene that night, said Leonard’s actions saved Todd’s life. Things could have turned out differently had helped arrived just one minute later, the deputy chief said.
“The fire was in the rear of the building but we had black, pressurized smoke seeping through the front windows, which indicated to me high heat conditions,” Smyth said. “I knew those conditions up there weren’t tenable without some sort of breathing equipment, so she was close to succumbing to smoke inhalation.”
Leonard joined the Quincy Fire Department in 1987 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2002. When asked about the commendation he received, Leonard said the rescue was a team effort and credited his fellow firefighters and department leadership for their work.
“I work with a good group of guys that are well trained and well led. Trust me, one guy can’t do anything by himself,” Leonard said. “It’s a complete team effort – always has been, always will be – and that’s why that story line stays the same no matter where you go in the fire service. You need multiple bodies to handle that.”
Leonard and Smyth joined the department at the same time. Smyth said Leonard has the same drive he did in 1987 when they were both starting out.
“It’s always nice to see anyone receive the Role of Merit; however, to see someone with 30 years of service still come to work every day with the drive that he had in 1987, the dedication to public service, the willingness to continue learn and educate himself in the fire service, I’m very proud of him,” Smyth said.
The fire chief also recognized four Quincy Police Department officers for rescuing three family members – an eight-year-old child, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s – from an Oct. 21 house fire on Norfolk Street.
Barron, in a letter to Police Chief Paul Keenan, said the actions of the four officers saved the residents from serious injury and aided firefighters’ efforts to extinguish the fast-moving fire.
“Officer Daniel Parisi was the first officer on scene. He quickly entered the building and was assisted minutes later by officers David Sansevero, Erin King and John O’Donnell,” Barron said. “They searched the first floor without the aid of protective clothing, exposing themselves to extreme danger.
“I commend their selfless action of bravery, confronting this extremely dangerous, fast-moving fire as they escorted three occupants to safety.
“These officers are a credit to the Quincy Police Department and to this community. I wish to thank them for their unselfish caring and commitment to the citizens we serve.”