New England in brief

Teen driver fatally strikes one on ramp

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February 11, 2008

A Fitchburg woman was killed and a Lowell man injured in an early-morning accident on Route 3 in Lowell yesterday that involved a drunk teenage driver, State Police said. Denn S. Touch had stepped out of a car she was riding in after it had struck a bridge abutment on the ramp from Route 3 North to the Lowell Connector. Lyly T. Tran, a 19-year-old Lowell resident, hit Touch and the Honda she was riding in, which then struck that vehicle's driver, Donald S. Chea of Lowell. Touch died at the scene. Chea was taken to Leahy Clinic and was in critical condition last night. Tran and a passenger in her 2004 Toyota, Lisa Santersola, 18, of Dracut, were taken to Lowell General Hospital, where they were treated and released. She was later arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol. A second passenger in Tran's car, Lucille Manisy, 19, of Lowell, was taken to Saints Medical Center in Lowell and also was treated and released. The Route 3 North ramp to the Lowell Connector was closed for three hours yesterday during the police investigation.

Priest resigns amid misconduct charges
A Worcester priest suspended after allegations of sexual misconduct has resigned, ending a long battle for reinstatement. The Rev. Joseph Coonan was suspended in August 2002 after alleged victims said Coonan abused them as teens while he was working as a camp counselor and teacher in Oxford in the 1970s. They accused Coonan of sexually touching them and urging them to perform other acts in his presence. Coonan, a popular and charismatic priest, refused to resign from St. John Church and appealed to the Vatican. But the Worcester diocese said Coonan has formally resigned from St. John. "Victims who have spoken out against this priest who has just resigned should be very proud of themselves," Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who has represented sexual abuse victims, said yesterday.

Advice for school vacation travelers
With school vacations approaching, and Logan International Airport expecting large crowds of travelers, Massachusetts Port Authority officials are advising passengers traveling between Thursday and Feb. 24 to arrive early for flights, and to check with their airlines for delays before leaving home. Massport is also recommending travelers use public transit to and from the airport.

Speeding snowmobiler killed in crash
Wardens say a Bucksport man was killed when his snowmobile crashed into a maple tree after speeding across frozen Silver Lake. Maine Game Warden Sergeant Patrick Devlin said 22-year-old Carl Coleman was pronounced dead at the scene Friday night. Devlin said he believes Coleman was going so fast that he was "overdriving his headlights" and didn't see the shore. Coleman's death was the fourth snowmobile-related fatality this year, and the third in eight days. Also Friday, a Atkinson teen, 17, died after getting lost during a storm and falling through thin ice on Sebec Lake. (AP)

Toboggan race resumes after accident
The 18th annual National Toboggan Championships, a tongue-in-cheek competition in which some participants race in outlandish costumes, resumed yesterday after a crash that sent six people to the hospital. Organizers suspended racing Saturday after a four-person toboggan careening down the 400-foot chute smashed into another toboggan that had turned onto its side in the chute, said Jeff Kuller, manager of the Camden Snow Bowl. Six people were taken by ambulance to Penobscot Bay Medical Center, and one of them was later taken by helicopter to the Eastern Maine Medical Center, Kuller said. He declined to release the names of the victims. The injuries included broken bones but were not considered to be life threatening, Kuller said yesterday. (AP)

Toll scofflaw arrested, owes $1,800
State Police said a 28-year-old New Hampshire man is the state's worst turnpike toll scofflaw, with unpaid tolls of nearly $1,800. Derek Theriault, a cardiovascular technician at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire, who lives in Rochester, N.H., was charged Friday with felony theft for roughly 1,300 toll-evasion violations on the Maine Turnpike. Trooper Roger Teachout said Theriault is accused of driving through the turnpike's E-ZPass electronic toll lanes after his E-ZPass account was suspended. Teachout staked out the York toll plaza Friday morning and arrested Theriault when he drove through. (AP)

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