Beloved librarian killed after being hit on bicycle by cement truck in Boston

BOSTON — A bicyclist has died from her injuries after being hit by a cement truck in Boston on Friday afternoon.

According to Mass. State Police, the crash happened at Brookline Avenue where it meets Park Drive, in the city's Fenway neighborhood.

The female victim, identified as 69-year-old Cambridge native Paula Sharaga, sustained life-threatening injuries and was transported to a Boston hospital. She later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead.

The driver of the cement truck, a 67-year-old Salem man, was transported to Beth Israel Hospital.

Sharaga was a librarian at the Public Library of Brookline, and was remembered as a "fun, caring, thoughtful and empathetic staff member."

"Paula was a wonderful asset to the Coolidge Corner community, which she served for almost two decades," the library said in a statement. "Paula was a fun, caring, thoughtful, and empathetic staff member, and a kind and good friend.

The statement also mentioned Sharaga's dedication as an environmentalist, and as a "vigorous political advocate."

"Paula was loved by all who knew her and will be missed terribly by the staff of the library, and by her friends in the community and around the world," the statement continued. "Our hearts go out to Paula’s husband and the rest of her family at this terrible time."

Sharaga was married to Boston musician Eric Zinman, who wrote in a heartbreaking Facebook post that his wife had died in the crash.

"My longtime 25 year relationship with Paula Sharaga, my wife, came to an end today," Zinman wrote. "Paula was killed in an accident riding her bike near the Fenway in Boston today. No words can describe how I feel."

As part of her commitment to the environment, Sharaga cycled everywhere.

"Paula was green to the core," Cole Harrison, executive director at the Massachusetts Peace Action, said.

Sharaga worked with Mass. Peace Action for 30 years, and her biggest project was trying to close the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

“Paula was just so positive," Harrison said. "One thing about her is she always thought, ‘People can get together, we can do this, we can fix this.' She was kind of a spark plug and an energizer.”

Harrison was one of the last people to see her alive, and said she had just left the office Friday when she was killed on her bicycle in Boston.

"Apparently, she was killed at 1:45 yesterday, and she left our office just after noon," Harrison said. "She was there working on our mailing list. So, I saw her an hour and a half before she died. She had her whole biking regalia on, she had her helmet and the special vest she wears, so I knew she was headed out on her bike. Makes you think."

Investigators reconstructed the scene of the fatal collision between the truck and the bicyclist, and preliminary investigation showed the truck was stopped at a traffic light.

When the light turned green, the driver began to go forward, but Sharaga was in the intersection.

“It was such a shock," Harrison said. "I know there have been several cyclists killed on the roads around here in the last couple of years, and there really is something that ought to be done. We really need a better transit system and a better energy system. That’s what Paula lived for and that’s what would have helped her.”

Others who travel by bike expressed their discomfort with riding in the area.

"There's not clear lanes for bikes like there are in some other sections," bicyclist Joel Krier said. "This is one of the dangerous intersections I ride through, so I usually take extra precautions."

Five major roads converge at the intersection, and even pedestrians say the intersection isn't very safe, with cars turning, people walking and bicyclists passing through.

"Certainly, there are many times I see cars almost get into accidents with bikes, with people, as well," Araz Aran said.

Cycling advocates said more needs to be done to protect people on bikes in Boston.

"In the last seven years, there's been 18 cyclists killed and 12 have been involved by trucks," David Read said.

Read founded Longwood Area Cyclists to help with that effort after a Beth Israel doctor was hit and killed by a truck on city streets in 2015.

Read said the jumble of streets filled with construction vehicles is especially concerning.

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"This intersection in particular, there’s bike lanes leading up to it, but there’s four lanes of traffic and it’s really, really dangerous," Read said.

State Police are still investigating the crash, and the outcome will determine if any charges will be filed against the driver of the truck.

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