Police: Officers responding to fatal crash fail to spot body

CANTON, Mass. — Police in Massachusetts are trying to figure out how the body of a man who died in a car crash on Christmas Eve went undiscovered for nearly two hours until a passing motorist spotted him.

Canton Deputy Police Chief Helena Rafferty said that officers responding to the scene in Canton early Monday morning found an unoccupied vehicle and thought the driver may have fled.

The vehicle involved in the crash was towed, and the Department of Public Works responded to cut down a tree that had been taken down in the incident.

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"They blocked the whole street off," Joan Sylvester said. "Many, many cars, many police cars, they were all lined up."

Officers, neighbors, a tow truck driver, and public works employees all failed to spot the body. Police say he was wearing dark clothing, motionless and it was still dark out.

"They scoured the whole area they were looking in everybody's cars," Sylvester said. "They came in here, they went next door and they went across the street. They thought he fled."

However, just an hour after police cleared the scene, neighbors discovered the driver's body in a front yard.

"When it started getting light, I saw something over there," Sylvester said. "I thought it was just debris, maybe the boy fled and dropped everything there. But it turns out it was a body."

Another driver called police at about 7 a.m. to report someone sleeping on the lawn near the crash scene.

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"Although we wish we located him earlier, we do not believe it would have changed the outcome at all," Rafferty said.

The victim was a 30-year-old man from Dedham, but his name was not released.

"It’s just terrible," Sylvester said. "It’s so bad to experience a dead person."

Police said the same driver sideswiped a Canton resident in Stoughton earlier in the morning and then fled at a high rate of speed.