Former employee says she voiced safety concerns before deadly auto auction accident

BILLERICA, Mass. — The Lynnway Auto Auction is taking new safety precautions after a tragic crash killed three people last week.

But the safety barriers planned to protect crowds won’t be installed by Wednesday for the first weekly auction after the incident.

Boston 25 News has learned a former driver asked about safety changes years before the accident.
That driver worked at the auction for three years in a part time job, driving cars through the auction lanes.

The woman, who asked to be identified only as Anne, spent three years driving cars through the crowds inside the Lynnway auto auction. She said her safety concerns were ignored.

“It’s just a matter of time before something like this would happen,” Anne said.

Showing us her tax records to prove her employment, she sat down with Boston 25 News just days after three people were killed at her former job.

“I wasn't surprised because I was like, ‘one of these days, someone is going to get killed,” she said.

Anne says she received no formal safety training after she was hired through a temp agency called Labor Force.

“Not really much, you have a license, you can drive, you know,” she said.

Anne says many of the cars she drove had major mechanical issues and questions if they were safe to drive through the crowded lanes.

“I did worry about my own safety…one of the cars I was driving, the brakes went all the way to the floor,” she explained.

MassCOSH, a non-profit that monitors worker safety, is calling for more precautions at Lynnway; particularly for temporary workers like Anne, or Leezandra Aponte -- one of the victims of last weeks' crash.

“Temp workers are seen sadly as disposable, they're treated like second class employees,” MassCOSH’s Jeff Newton told Boston 25. “We will be following the OSHA investigation to see if the company took any shortcuts that put anyone in needless danger.”

RELATED: Billerica auto auction company had serious OSHA violations in 2014

A spokeswoman for Lynnway told us all drivers attend an instructional safety meeting before every auction and that drivers are instructed if there's any mechanical problem, they should stop the vehicle.

The company also plans to add more safety monitors and lane barriers.

Spokeswoman Jill Reilly also said Lynnway does have a tow truck on site and that if any driver feels their car isn't safe to drive, they are told to stop it immediately and call for the tow truck.

According to Reilly, Lynnway is planning to install bollards as soon as possible, but they won’t be installed by Wednesday. However, they are going to put Jersey barriers in place, until the bollards are ready to be installed.

[Anne] was not a Lynnway employee, she worked for Labor Ready. [Anne] had an uncooperative attitude and Labor Ready was asked not to send her any more. During the time she worked as an auction day driver, she was required to attend the safety meeting and handed a copy of the safety instructions every single time she came on Wednesdays to work as a driver.

  • All drivers (regardless of how long they have worked at Lynnway) are required to attend an instructional and safety meeting held in the morning before every auction.
  • The drivers are instructed that if they notice any mechanical problem (especially brakes) they are to stop the vehicle wherever it is and turn off the engine.
  • Lynnway has a tow truck on site which tows vehicles through the auction lane. Drivers are specifically told that they will not get in any trouble or be in any way criticized if they stop any vehicle and call for the tow truck.

MORE: 3 dead, multiple injured after car crashes into Billerica auto auction