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Comm Ave Reopens After Accident

Rampaging truck sideswipes cars and bursts into flames


A sideswiped truck blocks the Green Line tracks on Commonwealth Avenue. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

A box truck barreled up Commonwealth Avenue shortly after 7 a.m., sideswiping several parked cars before it collided with a vehicle at the junction of Commonwealth and Brighton Avenues and burst into flames. Police say the driver of the truck, which was carrying medical supplies, was taken away in an ambulance, and two other people sustained minor injuries.

“All I could see was a blur,” said Leon Barin, a BU Building and Grounds staffer, who witnessed the chaos. Barin said he was unaware of any injuries.

Scott Pare, deputy directory of public safety for Boston University, says that because the box truck was carrying medical supplies, the area surrounding the accident is now considered a “chemical hot zone.”

The accidents closed the outbound side of Commonwealth Avenue from Agganis Way westward and shut down the Green Line’s B train service between Blandford Street and Packards Corner for more than three hours. Service was restored by late morning.

Final exams will take place as scheduled.


37 Comments on Comm Ave Reopens After Accident

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 9:43 am

    Hazmat accident

    That was a hazmat accident with a truck carrying unknown medical supplies, a possible biohazard.

    BU is directly downwind of the accident and should have closed.

    The fact that BU remained open in light of this accident whose potential hazards are unknown presents a serious health hazard to the university community.

  • Glen on 05.08.2008 at 11:12 am

    Re: Hazmat accident

    As perhaps the only BU student who is certified to coordinate hazardous material shipments, let me be the first to say nice try, but not even close.

  • Nervous Student on 05.08.2008 at 11:36 am

    I’m really nervous. There are so many possibilities for what could be going around in the air right now. I agree with the previous post about finals being postponed. I might even skip my final today.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:41 am

    no it was filled with chemicals which were flamable

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:51 am

    That’s insane that final exams are taking place as scheduled. Students should not be penalized if they can not make their final exams.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:56 am

    I live right by Shaws, no one informed any of the people in my building that the area was deemed a “chemical hot zone.” That’s a pretty vague term but if there really is a serious biohazard I think we should have been informed. I’m presuming/ hoping the only reason we haven’t been is because it’s not as dangerous as it sounds.

    It’s a really good thing that only minor injuries were sustained, especially after seeing the extent of the damages.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:56 am

    having worked in hazmat situations, i have no reason to believe that the experienced incident commander did not read the placards, check the Emergency Response Guidebook that is given to every officer, and make a competent decision on whether or not to evacuate based on wind speed, temperature, concentrations of chemicals etc etc. I only comment because I don’t want to see this get blown out of proportion and hear people use it as another excuse to whine about BU, as the comment above begins to do. Your eagerness to stir up controversy is annoying.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:57 am

    RE: Hazmat accident

    I agree that BU should have done more in response to the accident. Not only was the nature of the truck’s contents dangerous, but the seriousness of this incident hindered students and faculty from making their way through campus. Without the T being operational, it was not reasonable to expect everyone to carry on with business as usual. BU administrators’ lack of action, however, does not come as a surprise. It is unfortunately rare for the university to ever alter schedules as a result of unforeseen events.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 11:58 am

    Re: Hazmat accident

    Let me guess: you have a final exam at noon today…?

  • Re: Re: Hazmat accident on 05.08.2008 at 12:04 pm

    Re: Re: Hazmat accident

    I don’t know what you mean. Try again.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:09 pm

    Truck Accident

    No need to be an alarmist.
    The accident was not a hazmat accident, it was an auto accident. If the truck carried hazardous materials, the label on the exterior of the truck would have indicated this and our fine Boston Fire Department would have had the wherewithal to close the area down.
    ‘unknown’ ‘potential’ ‘hazards’ exist all around us, but we get up every morning.
    I hope you studied for your finals!

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:13 pm

    Emergency notification system?

    Bomb threat at the library and hazardous materials on the B-line, i can understand them not wanting to put the BU public in unnecessary alarm but seriously what else qualify for getting emergency notification on our cellphone. They decide to send us 10-20 unnecessary test text during the year, but when something of relevance should be notified to the BU public, nothing?

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:22 pm

    I’m surprised more people aren’t whining about being exposed TOXIN IN MY UGGS! I NEED MORE TIME FOR FINALS, blah blah daddy, pay my credit card bills for me!

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:25 pm

    Does anyone else think it’s rather dumb that BU didn’t use the “Send Word Now” feature that they have been advertising for a year now? This seems like a perfect situation, even if only to say, “There is an incident at Packard’s Corner, transportation is difficult, please plan accordingly”

    Seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:32 pm

    Comm Ave. Accident

    BU’s response to the incident was appropriate and I’m confident everything was done according to proper procedures. Keep in mind that the accident happended on the street, not BU property. Therefore, The city of Boston has full jurisdiction and BU’s role was to follow the city’s directives and provide support. Yes, the university was impacted greatly and the campus community should be concerned. It’s amazing that no one was killed!

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:32 pm

    I agree with the person who said they were certified to handle hazmat materials, having some knowledge of such situations myself. It seems very likely that this is not an emergency situation, or that some “chemical” is floating down BU’s campus and slowly killing everyone. Protocol is protocol, doesn’t mean it’s a chemical emergency requiring evacuation.

    This wasn’t even BU’s responsibility, they don’t own Commonwealth Ave, so let’s not try and blame them hmm? Let’s be honest, BU was not going to cancel finals. What they could have done (and may have, for all I know) is send an email to students tell them to leave extra time for travel and inform professors that students may be late today due to traffic and that everything reasonable should be done to allow these students equal amounts of time to take their exams.

    Simple solutions are the best solutions. Everyone try and be reasonable for once.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:37 pm

    Just checked this article with the hope that no lives were lost in this accident this morning. Reading through some of the comments posted on here, I think that some of you have too much time on your hands.

    If you don’t like the way something is handled, maybe you can do something to change it, instead of complaining about it.

    In the School of Medicine, when we don’t like the way something is handled we approach administrators and talk about ways to change things.

    We do not come online and write negatively about them.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:39 pm

    is that still going on or is the T running again?

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:40 pm

    I passed by Packards Corner at 9:00 this morning and saw a lot of fire department cars and police cars. I waited there for 20 mins to get the B line, untill one policewoman told me the line was closed. Then it took me another 20 or 30 mins to walk here to my department.

    Fortunately I’m a 4th year gradute student now and don’t have any finals. I think there must be some students late for the finals due to this accident. They should get some extra credit or be allowed to take a makeup.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:43 pm

    Chemical hot zone? I walked up pretty close to the accident this morning. Firemen were hosing everything down, and what appeared to be chemical-streaked water was running down Brighton towards Allston.

    Comm Ave. looked like something out of Grand Theft Auto.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:51 pm

    Be grateful no one was hurt

    Seriously, it’s a 20 min walk from one side of campus to the other. If that’s going to kill you I’m sure the BU Bus is still running (runs no where near the accident). And upon reading the article I think we should all be more amazed and grateful that no one was hurt, not worried that the T can’t take us 1/2 a mile or that BU didn’t alert us of a car accident. The alert is for serious school shootings where we should all hide, not a car accident not on campus.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 12:55 pm

    Are the buses still working or are they shut down as well?

  • Cassidy Rush on 05.08.2008 at 12:58 pm

    I don’t understand why Boston wasn’t evacuated.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:00 pm

    If BU had said anything then there would be mass panic of people who think theyre going to catch something and who do not show up for exams. That alone would add another week to exams because many would have to be made up and no one wants to stay a week longer now do we?

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:04 pm

    Emergency Texts

    I believe the point of the emergency texts would be to use during an emergency.

    This morning was not an emergency by any means. The 57 Bus was still running, the BUS was still running. The most anyone should have arrived late to any final is 15 minutes, because you can just hop in a cab at the worst situation. Does paying extra cash suck? Yeah, but get to your final and take it rather than making up excuses and taking up time on BU Today by writing a post because you didn’t study sufficiently or because you woke up 10 minutes before your final on the off chance that the T on a good day would be there at your convenience.

    This was not a student emergency, and I am almost certainly that the Bomb scare was handled as rationally as possible as well. The emergency alert system is only for when the physical safety of the entire BU Community is at risk. If they start using it because of something that was quickly assessed as a bomb scare or from a car accident at Packards Corner, everyone will just consider it “the boy crying wolf.” When you do get a text message from BU on your phone, you will know that something bad IS happening. Let us all hope to whoever it is your pray to, that this will never happen on our relatively quiet and safe campus.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:29 pm


    The people complaining here about the inaction of the University need to stop it and get to their finals. I agree that the accident occurred on Boston property, not BU property and that demanding finals be rescheduled is absurd. Get to class

  • Keli on 05.08.2008 at 1:38 pm


    Honestly, don’t you think by now that if there was a biohazard, someone (if not the school, then the city) would have said something?

    If anyone bothered to check the local news sites (or even Google), s/he would know that none of the medical supplies were spilled or leaked. Antifreeze and oil were spilled all over, however, and are the only chemicals on the street.

    The only comment(s) I can agree with here are those that say we should have been notified so that we could plan for extra travel time. School doesn’t need to close for this. Go take your exams.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:43 pm

    Are you seriously complaining?

    After reading through the comments I am really shocked that people are complaining that the B line was suspened for a few hours or that BU should have alerted them, or that they couldn’t make it to their finals. If people are seriously too lazy to walk a couple miles (at most) to get to a final that’s just pathetic. We are really missing the point that its just amazing no one was killed.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:44 pm

    can you people go study gosh!

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 1:57 pm

    1:45 pm Update on Traffic and MTBA

    Comm Ave has reopened and the Green Line is running. Per the MBTA: “Delays for buses. Irregular service: No service for buses outbound on Commonwealth Avenue between Harvard Avenue and Beacon Street in Boston. Inbound service is operating with delays.” HOWEVER, Brighton Ave will remain closed thru the evening rush in that area due to the cleanup, the investigation, and the HazMaz situation with the flammable chemicals. Don’t know if this means that the 57 bus dumps you off at Packards Corner. Plan accordingly for any detours.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:03 pm

    Wow, it is thanks to people like you morons, who are freaking out over nothing, that the BioLab is being questioned. If there were anything potentially dangerous in the truck it would have been marked on the side of the truck, and most likely would not have been being transported in that truck as well, and would have been transported in something more secure. It is HIGHLY UNFORTUNATE that uneducated people like yourselves are becoming the norm in this country and where it is acceptable to cry wolf every time something scares you because you are too stupid to come up with an intelligent thought.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:04 pm

    most of these comments are abusrd for such a supposedly ‘intelligent’ institution. get over it, it was a car accident. suck it up and take your finals. you’re probably exposed to more toxins taking the T.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:05 pm

    Having seen the accident it was pretty serious but you should all know the hazmat comments are right. This article makes you think there’s a chemical danger or whatever, but the truth is the area would’ve been marked off. Police officers and firefighters wouldn’t be casually walking around the accident if there was a hazordous chemical in the air, the article is written to get your attention and scare you a little bit. Just relax, it’s good no one was hurt too seriously, looking at the car it seemed really terrible though. BU didn’t need to notify us, personally I really wouldn’t want a text message every time there was a car accident or traveling was tough in Boston, my phone would never stop ringing.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:10 pm

    People are freaking out about nothing. It is a shame we live in such a society so filled with fear that people can’t handle a car accident. So the T wasn’t working, walk, bike, razor scooter to your final, the campus isn’t that big.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:14 pm

    Re: I don't understand why

    LOL! At least someone with a sense of humor.

    It’s amazing that noone was seriously hurt from this accident! Am I glad I didn’t have finals this morning, because I know I wouldn’t have made it… But to be honest, that’s because I never leave PLENTY of time for getting up and going to school so I wouldn’t have been able to blame it on anything else but me!


    I don’t understand why
    Submitted on Thu, 05/08/2008 12:58 pm.
    I don’t understand why Boston wasn’t evacuated.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 2:37 pm

    Everyone Take a Deep Breath!

    take your exams, get over yourself, and go home to your cushy summer lifeguard jobs. If this happened during the beginning of the semester, it would have been already forgotten by noon today.

    Also, if you don’t know what “Hazmat” means, stop crying about evacuating the city and inhaling dangerous chemicals. Hazmat can mean flammable gasoline, but it can also mean a box truck full of rubbing alcohol and cotton balls (which is exactly what it was). If you saw water mixed with “chemicals” on the road, take a look at any other road after it rains. The streets are always full of motor oil, gas, and other fluids that typically leak from passing cars…nevermind the chemicals that seap up from the pavement materials itself everytime it rains. You’re going to find a “rainbow” puddle on any street in the city.

    Those of you who have worked with hazmat, I completely agree with your comments. Kudos.

    Calm down and find your zen, finish your exams, and get outta here so Boston can catch a breather for a few months.

  • Anonymous on 05.08.2008 at 3:16 pm

    I’m happy that BU didn’t send me an alert. I want to be notified when there’s an actual emergency, not when there’s a car accident. Regarding the bomb scare mentioned, everything was brought under control by the police — another incident that I didn’t need to know about until it hit the papers.

    If there’s an active threat to my life, then I want to know. Otherwise, I get enough spam, junk mail, unsolicited phone calls and flyers on my windshield that I appreciate BU in using discretion in contacting me and encourage them to continue this practice.

    BU isn’t a news agency — I can (and do) turn on the TV or radio in the morning. All the information I needed was there.

    Everyone seems to be a bit on edge…

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