Man found dead after pickup veers into Charles River

By Matt Byrne, Ursula Munn, and Miriam Valverde
Globe Correspondents / December 13, 2010

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A man was found dead in the water in Millis yesterday after his pickup truck veered off a road and into the Charles River, authorities said.

Investigators were examining if the fatality was caused by weather, as drivers across the state encountered icy roadways that led to several other minor accidents yesterday morning.

The middle-aged man, who was not identified by police last night, was found in the river around noon yesterday by a person walking a dog near Dover Road in Millis, said David Traub, spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating.

The pickup truck owned by the man was in the water, Traub said. The accident probably occurred between 6 a.m. and noon, said Traub.

The Charles River intersects with the road a little more than a mile northwest of the intersection of Routes 27 and 109 in Medfield.

State Police detectives assigned to Keating’s office, a State Police accident reconstruction unit, and a dive team responded to the scene, Traub said.

In the same window of time investigators believe the crash occurred, less than a quarter- inch of rain fell in the Millis area, more than enough to cause slippery and dangerous driving conditions, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

The overnight icing on roads led to multiple minor motor vehicle mishaps early yesterday, and in Waltham, law enforcement officials warned residents to stay home.

Most of the accidents were reported north of the Massachusetts Turnpike, said Sergeant Matthew Murray, a State Police spokesman.

But several accidents involved cars that ran off the highway into the median along Route 20 in Waltham, Murray said.

Conditions grew so poor that Waltham police issued an advisory about 7 a.m.

“People were going to church and out and about, so I made the decision to put an advisory that if they didn’t need to go out to stay home,’’ said Waltham police Lieutenant Mario Cavallaro.

He said the advisory was issued after 15 accidents were reported in the area, including a six-car accident on Route 128. A tractor trailer accident was also reported in the rotary at Route 20. There were no major injuries.

State Police said the icy conditions led to a number of accidents in the early morning, involving spin-outs and cars bumping into one another.

By mid-morning yesterday, rain made roads less treacherous for travel, officials said.

“Any kind of mixed precipitation is pretty much over with,’’ Simpson said.

All of Eastern Massachusetts was above freezing by about 9 a.m. yesterday, Simpson said. That allowed the frozen drizzle to turn into a rain that was expected to last about 24 hours. High winds were also anticipated for late last night.

Yesterday’s motor vehicle accidents were the latest in a weekend of tragedy on roadways, including several fatal crashes whose causes were not officially tied to the weather.

Early Saturday, three separate accidents caused four fatalities, according to the State Police.

A 16-year-old male from Westport died in Fall River after losing control of his 1982 AMC Jeep Wrangler while driving north on Route 24.

Two other drivers died on Interstate 91 in Longmeadow after a two-car crash.

One vehicle was traveling north on the southbound side of the highway.

Also Saturday, a 20-year-old woman died in Walpole after being ejected from her vehicle following a two-car crash on Interstate 95.

The other driver was not injured.

The accidents remain under investigation.

Yesterday’s temperature highs were expected to approach 50 degrees, with overnight lows in the mid-40s, according to the National Weather Service.

Freezing temperatures are not expected to return until tomorrow morning.

Ursula Munn can be reached at; Miriam Valverde can be reached at; and Matt Byrne can be reached at