Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Death In The Dead Of Night

North East Street

UPDATE:  April 9, 2015

The driver has been indicted in the death of Hanna Frilot 


Exactly what went wrong late on a Thursday night in a sleepy part of town, culminating in a fatal merging of fast moving metal and tender flesh may never be known ... exactly. 

What we do know for sure is a promising 20-year-old, Dean's List, UMass engineering student, Hannah Frilot, died almost instantly while walking with a friend northbound along North East Street.  The scenic road has no sidewalks and no streetlights near where the tragedy occurred. 

 Hannah Frilot, age 20

As is usual in the case of a fatality, authorities are releasing precious little information.  But since the driver has not been charged with speeding, negligent operation of a motor vehicle or driving under the influence, safe bet the months long investigation will simply conclude it was a tragic accident.

First responders have their own set of priorities when it comes to emergency dispatch calls.  "Box alarm" -- a credible report of a structure fire -- will mobilize responders in a heartbeat.  As does reports of a "car vs pedestrian."

A total of 13 APD staff responded to the call.  2300 = 11:00 PM, PI= Personal Injury

Ms. Frilot was pronounced "dead at the scene," meaning the injuries were obviously extensive.  First responders -- police or EMS -- cannot officially pronounce death, but they do have the authority to not initiate care. 

Especially in the case of "obvious death" brought on by destruction of the heart or brain.  Or a scene best described in one word: "gruesome."

In the event of a fire or emergency medical incident AFD always has command and control at the scene.  But once EMS personnel have concluded there's "no patient in need of medical care," the accident scene is released to APD for their investigation.  

And leaving the deceased undisturbed at the scene rather than moving the remains to an ambulance can greatly aid the police in their investigation.  Hence no high speed transport to Bay State Medical Center in Springfield. 

 Note old style guard rails along roadside, no sidewalk, no streetlights. 220 North East is house on left. camera traveling north at 40 MPH (posted speed limit)

Already this tragedy is being used for political purposes on social media, suggesting sad incidents like this will only increase if The Retreat, a high-end housing project targeting UMass students, is built in northeast Amherst. 

A bit of a stretch considering this accident scene is two miles away from the proposed Retreat, a distance not usually considered walkable to the average college student.  All the more reason public officials need to be as transparent as possible with sensitive cases like this.

Balancing the public's right to know with the rights of family and friends to grieve in private is always extremely difficult.

Anytime there's even the slightest chance of illuminating facts that could lead to changes in behavior (or infrastructure improvements) to avoid a tragic recurrence, the answer is clear.


Kevin said...

I would like to say that suggesting that sad incidents like the death of a pedestrian on North East Street will only increase if The Retreat is built in northeast Amherst is utterly odious.

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, this is why the prudent pedestrian always carries a flashlight and why I used to do so.

It is no easier to see a pedestrian at night than it is to see a vehicle -- there is a reason why cars have both taillights and reflectors. (One of the main arguments for a front license plate is that it is reflective.)

If one is walking with a lit flashlight and on the "wrong side" of the road as one should, that flashlight is visible at upwards of a mile away. It will be bouncing around as the person walks which helps indicate what it is (a person walking) and there will be a lit spot ahead of the pedestrian(s) that gives the oncoming motorist perspective as to where the pedestrians are, particularly if there is a white line on the edge of the road.

Even if the vehicle is approaching from behind, a pedestrian with a light source is far more visible than one without one.

Most roads in Maine are not lit and walking along one at night without a lit flashlight (or Coleman Lantern)is considered recklessly imprudent.

I know neither the facts of this accident nor if a lit flashlight would have prevented it, and am not commenting on either.

Instead, I am asking the local police to reevaluate their attitudes toward (and prejudices against) those who carry a flashlight while walking amongst moving motor vehicles at night.

She was not the first pedestrian to be hit at night as she was walking (I presume) along the edge of a town (or university) road.

Might the authorities wish to reconsider their views toward pedestrians carrying lit flashlights when walking along roads at night?

Anonymous said...

Without defending the use of this sad incident to advance an agenda, is it not a reasonable inference that we can expect that there will be more impaired drivers traveling along the approach roads to the Retreat?

I'm just asking.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that suggesting that sad incidents like the death of a pedestrian on North East Street will only increase if The Retreat is built in northeast Amherst is utterly odious.

Agreed. And note that the motorist is a 63-year-old woman, not exactly the target demographic of the Retreat....

Larry Kelley said...

Mr Morse:

I've given up trying to figure out where drunk drivers are concentrated in our little college town.


And The Retreat will be housing students who otherwise would be housed somewhere else in town.

If they are gonna drive drunk, then they are gonna drive drunk.

From wherever.

Anonymous said...

Flashlights, reflectors, light colored clothing... all
proven to be helpful- but rarely used by students.

I taught my teen drivers to always assume someone is walking on East Pleasant St at night.

The new streetlights are helpful!

Anonymous said...

North East St is a 45MPH zone in that stretch LK and not a 40. It is posted for traffic traveling north just after the intersection with Main St…..

Anonymous said...

Fuck you assholes and your selfish concerns. Let's take a moment to say a prayer for this young women and think of the lives of so many people who will forever be changed by her loss. No, NE St has no sidewalks or lights. It's Amherst, a town that looks down on development so don't expect any soon. Sidewalks or not, a terrible tragedy killed this young woman. Let's pay our respects instead of our narcissism.

Anonymous said...

If I were the woman who had given birth to this sweet, beautiful child or even someone who had loved her, it would cause me so much more pain to hear the word "gruesome" attached to the condition of my child if even obliquely. No need for that, unless you are quoting an actual source, who actually saw, for an actual reason.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually I was quoting a source (a very good one).

Dr. Ed said...

"Actually I was quoting a source (a very good one)."

And Larry, what's not said is what this sort of thing does to the people who respond. I've been there, trust me, they need to have it said about what they saw because, if nothing else, you want them psychologically able to go on the next run when they might actually be able to help someone.

And the flip side, maybe you should post the names and not just ID numbers of the AFD guys who went and tried -- I've said more than once to loved ones that "we did everything that we possibly could have -- it wasn't going to happen, but we tried anyway." You want to talk about her parents -- I think telling them *who* went and how much experience each person had -- that such a level of effort was made in a desperate hope that it would matter, would be helpful to them.

I think that her parents need to know that people cared and people tried....

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anon 9:33 AM


Anonymous said...

The point was:

There's no actual reason.....

If you listen to crazy, you become crazy said...

If I were the woman who had given birth to this sweet, beautiful child or even someone who had loved her, it would cause me so much more pain to hear the word "gruesome" attached to the condition of my child if even obliquely."

Yeah Larry, I mean, when one of Ponziville's exalted ones voices displeasure with how you write your pieces,

you friggan betcha you better listen.

And when they more than imply how ~heartless~ you are with guilt tripping, gender bias baiting descriptions meant to turn the hearts of "on the fence" (female?)readers against you, i.e. "If I were the woman..." and "sweet, beautiful child", you better start bending at your manly knees because they're hard cranking the washer dial all the way to negatively spin-you-the-frigg-out cycle.

Never mind the continuing major success you're having in writing the way ~you~ want.

Why can't you put ~them~ first?

Don't you know your approach is having a ~chilling~ effect upon the way this priestly community views and conducts itself?


shame on you, you animal!

-Squeaky Squeaks

Walter Graff said...

"Never mind the continuing major success you're having in writing the way ~you~ want."

You are right squeaks, it's about time the entitled residents of this town who live in a fantasy world got tossed into the circle of reality. You always know you've hit the truth when they start turning on you and twisting what you say to deflect from the truth.

Dr. Ed said...

The other side of this is that if you tell people what happened, you might save the life of someone else's daughter (or son). Young people consider themselves immortal -- a wakeup call from reality is not always a bad thing.

I'm sure that AFD and/or APD has photos and no, you do not publish those. But you also don't pretend that something like this didn't happen because then some other immortal 20 year old will be dead as well.

With all the blow-back from this, I'm starting to wonder who the driver was. That could make all of this even messier, couldn't it?

And the sad thing is that if the driver is "someone important", even if she is completely blameless in this, even if the investigation exonerates her, both the town and university are so lacking in moral credibility that no one will believe it.

It will be like when then Lt. Gov. Murray wrecked his state vehicle -- into a ledge at full throttle -- maybe it wasn't a suicide attempt, but I'll never believe that...

Anonymous said...

And that's our mindless speculation for today.

Thanks for reading.

More wild leaps of logic and baseless hypothesizing tomorrow.

Student said...

As a friend of the deceased, the choice of words in this piece are utterly disgusting and dishonorable. Larry, if you're going to play "reporter," have some respect. "Gruesome"? "Tender flesh"? You would never write like this if it were your own daughter who died.

Rest in power, Hannah.

Anonymous said...

this is your aunt Susan Happy Birthday Hannah we love and miss you deeply

Anonymous said...

In case people go back and read the comments on this article long after the fact... Hannah was worth remembering. It's a sad story.