Three days after a Watertown educator was killed and another woman was injured in a hit-and-run crash at a Somerville intersection, the driver involved remained at large Monday.
Authorities are looking for the person who was behind the wheel of a full-size, black pick-up truck — possibly a newer model Ford F-150 — when it fatally struck 40-year-old Allison Donovan Friday night on the corner of Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road, according to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. The vehicle is said to have front-end damage on the driver’s side and had a black cover over its bed.
Donovan, a Somerville resident who spent nearly her entire career in Watertown schools as an elementary school teacher and administrator, was struck alongside an unidentified woman, who officials say suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.
As the search for the driver continued Monday and those who knew Donovan grieved, extra police kept watch over the crossroads amid calls from one city official for urgent action to make the residential roadway safer.
Here’s what we know about the hit-and-run crash, Donovan, and the aftermath of the incident:
Speed and aggressive driving appear to be factors in the collision
Around 7:16 p.m. Friday, Somerville police responded to a report of a hit-and-run crash involving two adult pedestrian victims, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.
A preliminary investigation showed the pair was hit inside a crosswalk before the driver fled the scene, officials said.
Both women were brought to Mount Auburn Hospital, where Donovan was pronounced dead. The second victim had been released by Saturday afternoon, according to the statement.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the friends and family of the victim, Allison Donovan, 40, of Somerville, as well as to the surviving victim,” Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and police Chief David Fallon said in a statement Saturday. “In this tight-knit and caring community, we hope it offers some comfort in knowing that we, as well as surely many others, are sharing in your grief.”
Curtatone said Monday that speed and aggressive driving contributed to the deadly collison, NBC 10 reports.
With the driver still at large, authorities have called for help from the public in finding the vehicle and driver involved.
“Members of the public with information they believe will assist in identifying the operator of the motor vehicle are encouraged to contact the Somerville Police Department 617-625-1600 ext. 7250 or 7254,” officials said. “Those are business lines and they are manned 24/7 by sworn officers. Tips may be left anonymously through text. Begin your text message with 617spd and send it to TIP411 (847411).”
Donovan ‘devoted her life to nurturing children,’ her obituary says
A Burlington native, Donovan followed in her mother’s footsteps when she attended Lesley University and became a teacher, according to her obituary.
For 12 years, she taught at Hosmer Elementary School in Watertown before working her way up to become the K-8 literacy and Title 1 coordinator in the district, her position for the last two years.
It was a “role that she was destined to be.”
“Nothing made Allison happier [than] when she would see children excited about a topic being discussed, wanting to learn more, and seeing their eyes light up because they understood a subject,” her obituary reads. “Allison received so much joy as a teacher and administrator and her spirit will live on in the teachers and students whom she stimulated and helped form a strong educational foundation required to help children progress as students and young adults.”
Watertown Superintendent of Schools Deanne Galdston said Saturday the district’s thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends, The Boston Globe reports.
“She brought invaluable knowledge, insights, compassion, and dedication to the district and was passionate about providing students with the best education possible,” Galdston said in a statement. “She will be greatly missed.”
Between 2015 and 2017, Donovan served as principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Melrose, where she was “well liked and respected” in the community, said school Superintendent Cyndy Taymore.
“During those two years with the Melrose Public Schools, she sought to lead the Lincoln community with kindness, good humor and concern for the well being of all our students,” Taymore said in a statement.
A lover of the outdoors, Donovan, who lived in Somerville for the past 15 years, often hit local trails with her dog, Eli, her obituary says. She enjoyed traveling, and challenging her rock climbing skills, specifically at Acadia National Park in Maine.
“She lived her life giving of herself to others and her legacy will live on in so many of us who have benefited from her collaborative leadership, rich expertise, warmth, kindness, concern, and love that she bestowed upon all those who touched her in any manner,” the obituary reads.
Donovan is survived by her father, Richard Donovan, and his wife, Donna, of Billerica; a brother and sister; and many nieces and nephews, according to the obituary, which indicates a scholarship program will be created at Watertown High School in her name.
‘We must act now!’: Somerville’s City Council president is calling for more safety measures at the crash site
In the wake of Friday’s crash, City Council President Katjana Ballantyne is asking that the city add police officers to the intersection at school drop-off and pick-up times as well as install speed bumps, signage, flashing lights, and wider parking lanes to narrow the boulevard to slow traffic.
Ballantyne spelled out the request in a Facebook post Saturday, which also called for officials to meet Monday morning “to agree to implement all of these measures immediately” and to re-commit to installing permanent changes.
Together, the measures would prevent “yet another tragedy like this,” she said.
“Our first concern, in the immediate wake of this tragedy, must be to offer condolences and prayers for healing and peace to our neighbors who are most affected,” Ballantyne said in the post. “However we must also act now to do everything that we can to prevent any recurrence of these painful events.”
In their statement, Curtatone and Fallon said an additional police presence would be at the intersection throughout the week, along with crisis counselors for students, teachers, and parents at West Somerville Neighborhood School.
“Once the DA and Police investigation, as well as the City’s review of the incident, have progressed appropriately, a community meeting will be held to share information, answer questions, and discuss next steps. And again, at this time, we are requesting public assistance in identifying the driver,” they said in the statement. “As our community grieves this sudden and tragic loss, we will be working diligently to investigate this incident and to support our students, families, and residents.”