Crossing guard is struck and killed in front of children in Everett

Everett woman is hit by a truck

Marie Stewart knew her job was dangerous but kept doing it to be close to the schoolchildren.
Marie Stewart knew her job was dangerous but kept doing it to be close to the schoolchildren.

EVERETT — Diagnosed with throat and lung cancer two weeks ago, Marie Stewart kept at her job as a school crossing guard, despite almost daily close brushes with traffic, because she loved the children so much, relatives said.

She was helping about a half-dozen elementary students cross Ferry Street Wednesday morning when a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pickup truck struck her. Stewart later died from her injuries.

“A big part of my life is gone,’’ Neal Stewart, her husband of 52 years, said Wednesday night. “What can I say? My wife is gone. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’’

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Earlier in the day Stewart’s son-in-law, Scott Poliskey, had been briefed by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“She’s never coming back,’’ he said. “She’s never coming home again.’’

Poliskey said Stewart suffered head trauma. He said that the family had gathered at her bedside at Mass. General, and that clergy had delivered last rites.

Everett police said in a statement Wednesday night that they had been notified by Mass. General that Stewart was pronounced dead at 6:11 p.m.

Stewart had been on the job for only seven months. She was dressed the usual way Wednesday, wearing a bright-orange vest with a white stripe and holding a large stop sign as she stepped out into Ferry Street at its intersection with Cherry Street at 8:05 a.m. to usher the children through a marked crosswalk.

She was struck immediately, before the children had entered the crosswalk, Everett police said.

Nearby residents and shop owners heard a high-pitched tire squeal, then a horrifying scream. Some looked out their windows; others rushed outdoors.

They saw the diminutive 71-year-old grandmother lying on her side, her eyes open. Blood trickled from her head.

The students ran toward their nearby school, some crying, some screaming, nearly all wearing looks of shock on their faces as their backpacks bounced on their backs.

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Neighbor Michael Ricci said he was in his house when he heard the tires squeal. He looked toward the intersection and saw Stewart lying in the street, bleeding.

Stewart, a grandmother of nine, had a grandmotherly relationship with the children she protected from traffic.

She sent them to school in the morning, then home in the afternoon, with beaming smiles, residents said.

State Police conducted an investigation at the scene, and have analyzed the white GMC 2500 HD pickup.

Authorities are planning to interview the driver, John E. Mitchell, 67, of Dorchester, who has worked for the MWRA for 23 years.

Mitchell was transported to Whidden Memorial Hospital in Everett after the accident for observation.

Ria Convery, an MWRA spokeswoman, said Mitchell was distraught but had been released from the hospital Wednesday. He had a clean driving record at work, MWRA officials said.

Mitchell’s job was to deliver fuel to work sites in the region, said John Vetere, the authority’s deputy chief operating officer, who visited the scene of the accident.

The executive director of the MWRA said Wednesday night that authority workers were thinking of Stewart’s family.

“This is a tragedy that saddens everyone who is involved,’’ Frederick A. Laskey said when reached by phone. “We have heavy hearts and are shedding a collective tear for Mrs. Stewart,’’ he said.

According to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, Mitchell’s driving history includes several violations spanning about 26 years.

Mitchell has had three surchargeable accidents and two speeding violations and was once cited for failure to stop. All the offenses, spanning from 1983 to 2009, occurred in Boston.

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Lieutenant Paul Landry of the Everett Police Department said that no charges have been filed against Mitchell, and that the investigation is ongoing.

Stewart had started chemotherapy treatments Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital and went back Tuesday.

She was scheduled for another treatment Wednesday.

Poliskey said that his mother-in-law had become weakened by the treatments, but that her job invigorated her because she looked forward to the interaction with the children from George Keverian Elementary School.

But Stewart also realized that her job, which required stopping rush-hour traffic, had its dangers.

She often complained about how some commuters would blow by her as she attempted to do her job.

“Every single day she would come home and say how dangerous it was and how she almost got hit,’’ Poliskey said.

Globe correspondent Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report. Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com.