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Registry revokes license of driver, 86, in Melrose accident

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By Brian R. Ballou
Globe Staff / June 30, 2009
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The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has revoked the driver’s license of an 86-year-old Malden woman who struck and severely injured an elderly pedestrian in Melrose on Sunday, one of five accidents involving elderly drivers in the past four weeks.

The revocation came yesterday, although police have not cited Virginia Nelson, the driver. Melrose police and a State Police accident reconstruction team are investigating and are expected to issue a finding by the end of the week. Melrose police will then determine whether to cite Nelson.

Francis Blomerth, 84, of Medford, was hit about 10:30 a.m. near 449 Main St. and the center of town. There is a crosswalk nearby, and a neon-yellow traffic sign in the middle of the street cautions drivers to stop for pedestrians. He is listed in critical condition at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Melrose Traffic Sergeant Jon Goc said yesterday that Nelson was driving south on Main Street when she struck Blomerth. “We believe the pedestrian was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident,’’ Goc said. He added that alcohol does not appear to have been a factor, and there were no skid marks at the scene.

Melrose police faxed their initial report to the Registry immediately after the accident, and the Registry revoked Nelson’s license based on that report, Goc said.

Nelson had a clean driving record.

Two weeks ago, an elderly Canton woman had her driver’s license revoked after she struck and fatally injured a 4-year-old Stoughton girl in a pedestrian walkway in Stoughton. Stoughton police cited Ilse Horn for motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation.

On June 2, a 93-year-old man hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and drove his car into the entrance of a Wal-Mart in Danvers, injuring six people.

The next day, seven people were injured in Plymouth after a car driven by a 73-year-old woman jumped a curb and ran into a crowd at a war memorial.

And yesterday in North Attleborough, a young boy was pinned between two cars by an elderly driver in a parking garage at the Emerald Square Mall, said Fire Lieutenant Ron Darling. It was not clear whether the driver was at fault. The boy was not seriously injured, Darling said.

The series of accidents involving elderly drivers has renewed a call for legislation that would require regular testing based on age. State Senator Brian Joyce is sponsoring a bill that would require drivers 85 and older to pass a road and eye test every five years to have their license renewed.

At present, Massachusetts drivers are required to renew their licenses every five years and to take an eye test every 10. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation will hear the bill today.

“If this recent spate of high-profile accidents, including a couple of deaths, doesn’t cause us to act now, I don’t know what will,’’ Joyce said yesterday.

Joyce said the father of Diya Patel, the 4-year-old killed in Stoughton, is expected to testify at today’s hearing.

Milton J. Valencia of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.