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Car Crashes Into Pittsfield High School; One Killed
Staff Reports On: 03:34PM / Tuesday January 14, 2014
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A car crashed into Pittsfield High School on Tuesday afternoon after speeding across the intersection from Second Street.

Update on Jan. 15: Police report both occupants of the car have died. They have been identified as Tariq Sally, 34, and Ernest Duck Jr., 37.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with information from Sgt. Trapani and Superintendent McCandless at 5:51 p.m. and extraneous information removed.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A white car reportedly roared out of Second Street and across East Street just before 3 p.m., hitting the curb and slamming into the wall in front Pittsfield High School.

One occupant of the vehicle has died as a result of his injuries, according to police, who have not released any names.

Police Sgt. Mark Trapani said the accident occurred at about 2:49 p.m. He said he did not have any further information on the occupants other than that there were two men and both were from Pittsfield.

Police were aware of reports the car had been speeding along Second Street, blowing through red lights and stop signs, he said, but it was not known where they were coming from.

Witnesses reported seeing the car traveling at a high rate of speed down Second Street toward the school. Unconfirmed reports have put the speed at 80 to 100 mph.

Trapani said police had "only suspicions" about what caused the crash, adding there were "no other contributing factors besides the operation of this one car at this point." He did say, in response to a question, that any possible medical factors would be investigated.

Principal Matthew Bishop said he was in the school lobby with others when they heard the crash and saw smoke. Some students were on the steps of the school at the time of the accident, he said, but they were unharmed. The high school lets out at about 2:20 p.m.

 "From 2 to 2:20, this is lined with pedestrians, students and pickup cars — parents waiting to pick up students from school — so yes, this could have been much, much worse," said Trapani.

Brandon Price, head of the math department, was in his room on the second floor of the building, across the lawn from where the incident took place. It was hot in his classroom, so the windows were open as he was with a group of students partaking in after-school help. He and his students heard a loud noise and rushed to the window.

"I was in my room, which is just right across the way from the car," he said. "That's scary."

"I was sitting there with a bunch of kids. I have all the windows open. We hear a really loud, like a thud, so we all get towards the window. When we look out the window, literally, the car is elevated off the ground, the tires are in the air and there's debris everywhere."

"Literally, kids were crying as soon as it happened. It was the scariest sound you've ever heard."

"I told them to close the windows, because you could already, instantly smell gas," he said. "I told them to go to the library, then I went downstairs. Actually, I called 9-1-1 before I left."

Superintendent Jason McCandless said staff and faculty have been working with the students who were in the school for after-school programs, including a well-attended 21st Century School program.

"We got kids to a place where we knew it was safe after understanding initially what actually happened and worked with several counseling staff," he said. "We do believe there were students who were here and who did witness it through windows or from being on the sidewalk."

Counselors who had been home returned to the school to meet with teens and their parents have been notified that their children may have been witness to a traumatic event.

"We have counseling staff up on site now and we'll have counseling staff, extra counseling staff, for tomorrow for students and for faculty who may be traumatized by what happened here," he said, adding "It's just devastating the thought if the timing had been different, had it been a day when students were congregating."

The school has also canceled tonight's boys' basketball game at home against Lee.

Both sides of East Street were closed to traffic for about a half-hour between Appleton and Bartlett avenues; the westbound lanes were reopened just after 3:30 p.m. but the eastbound was reduced to one lane at the time of this report.

"Our preliminary investigation, according to witnesses, is they came off of Second St., came across [East St.] ... ," said Police Capt. David Granger at the scene, pointing to the tree near the sidewalk where the car hit before landing on the school lawn.

"There were students there, the school was open. It was after school. There were students out front here," he said. "We're in the process of talking to school administrators and the students that were in the school. Some of them were eyewitnesses."

Granger said the preliminary investigation indicated that only two men were in the car.

"No civilians got hurt. No other people got hurt out here on the scene, but there were, what appeared to be, two males in the car and they've been taken to Berkshire Medical Center."

The crash prompted a full-scale response, including at one point four firetrucks, two ambulances and at least eight police vehicles. Initial reports were that a vehicle had crashed into the school with multiple people trapped.

Reporting by Andy McKeever and Dan Gigliotti



     
Pittsfield Police Trying to Identify Man Connected To Robbery
Staff Reports On: 04:57PM / Friday January 10, 2014
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are asking for help in identifying a man in connection to a robbery of the Tyler Street Subway Restaurant.

Police say a masked man entered the store with a knife and demanded money and then fled on foot in an unknown direction on Jan. 3. 

That man is described as white, in his mid-30s to early 40s, approximately 200-250 pounds with medium to large build. He stands about 6 feet tall.

Police on Friday released photos and video of a man they believed is somehow connected to the robbery.

They are asking anyone who can help identify the man in these photos and video. The images were grabbed from an Angelina's restaurant and it is unclear why the two are related.

Anyone who recognizes this man is asked to contact detective Nicholas DeSantis at 413-448-9705.



     
Crash Backs Up Traffic on Pittsfield's South Street
By Dan Gigliotti On: 06:21PM / Thursday January 09, 2014
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The vehicle spun and ended up on the lawn of the Veterans Memorial Park.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Traffic was backed up on South Street for about an hour on Thursday after an sport-utility vehicle crashed into a tree.

Police said a man driving a Cadillac Escalade lost control of the vehicle at about 4 p.m. when switching lanes near the Veterans Memorial and struck a tree.

The driver did not suffered any serious injuries, police said, but he was transported to Berkshire Medical Center by ambulance.

"He just lost control. He was in the left lane. Then, he went to go and pass someone in the right lane and, I don't know if he spun or what, but he just lost control and he hit the tree and the light," said Officer Mark Maddalena while surveying the scene.

"I think when he hit the tree it just spun him."

Police kept the road open while attending to the crash but traffic was backed up for about an hour.

Police did not release the name of the driver and the accident is still under investigation.



     
Somerville Youth Arraigned in Alleged Camp Rape
On: 04:16PM / Thursday November 21, 2013
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Somerville youth was arraigned on Thursday in Berkshire Superior Court in relation to an alleged rape during a training retreat for high school athletes.

Galileo Mondol, 17, appeared before Judge John  Agostini and had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf for single counts of aggravated rape of a child under age 16 and indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained the age of 14; two counts of assault with intent to rape a child younger than 16; and three counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

He was released on $100,000 cash bail on condition he have no contact, either directly or indirectly, with any of the victims and witnesses in the case, that he not attend Somerville High School, abide by an 11 p.m. curview unless with his parents and surrender his passport to the Probation Department.

The incident allegedly occurred at Camp Lenox in Otis, where the city of Somerville had rented the facility for team-building activities for its fall sports teams. It is alleged that Mondol, a junior and soccer player at Somerville High School, entered a cabin occupied by freshman students on Sunday, Aug. 25, and assaulted three victims. Two other juveniles, age 16, are also facing charges in the attack, in which one boy was allegedly raped with a broomstick.

About 165 students from the eastern Massachusetts high school attended the training at Camp Lenox along with some 20 adults.

The investigation is being conducted by state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office assisted by state police detectives assigned to the Middlesex district attorney's office and the Somerville Police Department.



     
Fire Destroys Unit in Pittsfield Retirement Community
By Andy McKeever On: 12:28PM / Tuesday October 29, 2013
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A residential unit in Salisbury Estates was heavily damaged by a two-alarm fire on Tuesday morning.

Deputy Chief Michael Polidoro said the roof blaze, which could be clearly seen from nearby streets, was called in 10:34 a.m. by a neighbor reporting smoke from the unit at 8 Baver Drive.

"On arrival, we had heavy smoke pushing out of the eaves of the building, from both ends of the gable," said Polidoro. "In the crawlspace above, we found heavy fire."

The deputy chief called in a double alarm because the potential for the fire to spread rapidly through the attic crawlspace that connects the units.

"We kept it contained to that particular unit ...  It's all wide open up there so it could have traveled the whole length," he said. "I needed the manpower and the equipment here to do that."

Firefighters on the scene searched the home to ensure it was vacant; Polidoro believed that only one person lived in the residence and that he or she had left earlier in the morning.

He roughly estimated the fire damage at $150,000 but could not say if the structure would have to be completely razed.

"There is heavy structural damage to the roof, it has a trussed roof which makes it more susceptible to fire ...  they collapse a lot quicker and it makes it very dangerous," said Polidoro.

Because of the roof damage, a upper wall was being removed to allow firefighters access to the building. "It's too dangerous to work underneath it because of the fire damage," he said. "It presented a collapse issue so it's easier to take the wall off."

At least three other units sustained smoke damage. The building and wire inspectors, as well as the department's fire investigation unit were at the scene.

Polidoro said there was no indication the blaze was suspicious, but "when no one is home [when a fire starts] we like to do a thorough investigation to determine cause."

One firefighter incurred minor injuries in what the deputy chief described as "slips, trips and falls" that happen in these situations.

Salisbury Estates is a retirement community offering independent and assisted living for adults age 55 and older, operated as a subsidiary of Berkshire Health Systems with Kimball Farms.



     
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Letters: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
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