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Wrong-Way Car Wreaks Comm Ave Chaos

Eight cars hit near Kenmore Square, student injured


The suspect in the wrong-way mayhem on Comm Ave was apprehended by the driver of one of the cars hit. Photos by Matthew Carleton (CAS’11). Bottom photo by David Alessi (SMG’12)

A speeding maroon Mitsubishi SUV raced the wrong way up Commonwealth Avenue from Kenmore Square early Thursday afternoon, sideswiping at least eight cars and colliding with two more before the driver stopped and fled on foot. Marouk Onifade, one of those whose car was sideswiped, chased down the suspect and held him until police arrived to take him into custody.

“I didn’t hold him long,” says Onifade, a native of Benin, West Africa, who works in real estate in Boston. “The police were already very nearby.” Onifade downplayed assertions that his actions were heroic.

Boston Police were called at 12:41 p.m. and closed the inbound lane ofCommonweath Avenue from St. Mary’s Street to Kenmore Square for morethan an hour while tow trucks removed the damaged cars.

Arrested at the scene was 29-year-old Ahmed Yerow of Chelsea. Accordingto Boston Police spokesman Dave Estrada, Yerow was charged with assaultand battery by means of a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of anaccident with personal injury, leaving the scene of an accident withproperty damage, operating to endanger, and driving the wrong way on aone-way street.

Yerow, who was hospitalized with a broken jaw Thursday night, is expected to be arraigned Friday in Roxbury District Court.

BU officials say a School of Management student who was driving one of the cars that was hit was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, and Brian Jorgensen, a College of Arts & Sciences professor emeritus of English, who was driving another sideswiped car, was uninjured. BU spokesperson Colin Riley says the Mitsubishi SUV was reported to be traveling up to 50 miles an hour.

Jorgensen was heading towards Boston on Commonwealth Avenue near the intersection of Blandford Street when his car was struck. “All of a sudden,” he says, “the car in front of me starts coming towards me and turning sideways because he was hit by a car coming up Comm Ave the wrong way.”

Jorgensen stopped his car, he says, and was immediately sideswiped on the right side of his car.

“I had nowhere to go,” he says. “There was no way to turn right, and I couldn’t turn left because of the T fence.”

Jorgensen recalls getting out of his car to “a lot of smoke, bent metal, and the sound of a blaring car horn.”  

David Ananian, a BU groundsworker, heard a loud crash and ran to the scene, worried that a BU student might have been hit. Ananian says he watched as the Mitsubishi raced up the street, bouncing off other cars. “He was just plowing through,” he says. “It looked like he was running from something. He finally stopped when he hit a car in the intersection, then he got out and started running.”

“I’m surprised no one got hit,” Ananian says. “Those crosswalks are usually full of people, and no one ever looks.”

Brittany Rehmer (COM11) contributed to this article.

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.


42 Comments on Wrong-Way Car Wreaks Comm Ave Chaos

  • Anonymous on 11.04.2010 at 4:53 pm

    safty is a priority

    Please build a few crossover bridges along commonwealth ave !
    The Kids need to be provided with safe conditions to cross the street. Between the “T” and the cars .. over bridges are needed.

  • Anonymous on 11.04.2010 at 5:50 pm

    are you nuts?

    Obviously, you’re a concerned parent. If your kid can’t look both ways before crossing the street, then you shouldn’t have let him or her go to college.
    Building a crossover bridge would be a waste of money. How about renovating the south campus dorms?

    • anonymous on 09.15.2011 at 7:54 pm

      I agree that there need to be a few overpasses at BU across Common Ave. I am a very alert grown up who has nearly been hit crossing at night. Between the cars, the bikes, and the trams, it is a labyrinth. BU Today is full of bike vs pedestrian, bike vs car and pedestrian vs car articles every week. Don’t know what the solution is for the bikes but I would welcome a safe place to cross the street.

      • Overlord of the Freshmen on 01.23.2012 at 11:03 am

        Honestly, if you’re hit by a car or the T it’s because you were negligent. It’s that simple. Rational people have no problem crossing the street.

  • Michelle Johnson on 11.04.2010 at 5:55 pm

    Great spot coverage guys!

  • Mick T. on 11.04.2010 at 6:01 pm

    About 2 hours later I was walking down Beacon street and there was a car going the wrong way on the Kenmore EXIT ramp off Storrow Drive. Thankfully he didn’t hit anything and turned around.

  • Anonymous on 11.04.2010 at 6:55 pm

    Maybe build a few crossover bridges for cars to travel safely along Commonwealth Ave considering this article has nothing to do with pedestrians being hit — oh wait that’s just as impractical!

    There is no need for crossover bridges. Yes, accidents happen, but if we all would just use our heads, most of them could easily be avoided — especially accidents involving pedestrians.

    Glad to see Onifade sprang to action and caught the guy! Cheers to him, and I hope it works out for everyone involved in the accident.

  • Anonymous on 11.04.2010 at 7:52 pm

    Does anyone know what he was running from? Or was he intoxicated or something?

  • Anonymous on 11.04.2010 at 10:34 pm

    agreed. I drive on comme ave all the time…I go very slow, but that still does not eliminate the issue…sometimes I walk across and never know what the driver is thinking

  • nick on 11.05.2010 at 7:37 am


    Pedestrian bridges wouldn’t have helped in this case…no pedestrians were hurt. It’s just a case of “look both ways.” If a speeding car is approach a cross walk (right way or wrong way), don’t enter it.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 7:58 am

    Nice idea, but the students would never use crossover bridges.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 8:36 am

    Great Idea, but

    Building crossover bridges sounds like a great idea, assuming people would actually use them. But in the meantime, BU students need to understand that a pedestrian crossing against a light does NOT have the right of way. And even in cases where a pedestrian would have the right of way, the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts do not override the laws of physics. We all need to take sufficient responsibility fior our own welfare.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 8:54 am

    The kids ARE provided with save conditions to cross the street, they just chose to wander into traffic.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 9:11 am

    I agree with the above poster. Please use this as a perfect example for why BU should be building pedestrian bridges over Comm Ave. Bridges would protect the students from getting hit by cars and the cars from swerving to avoid the students. Everybody wins.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 9:31 am

    It’s crazy that this happened. Maybe this will encourage students to actually look before they cross 40 mph traffic against the signal. I can’t count the number of times people have darted in front of me in the middle of the street, forcing me to swerve or hit the brakes. That makes it scary enough to drive down Comm ave, without having to worry about drunken (or plain stupid) undergrads driving the wrong way down the street.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 9:33 am

    You know, I’ve thought of that (crossover bridges), but I fear people wouldn’t use them because realistically they wouldn’t want to take the extra 10-20 seconds to climb up and down the staircases when they can just run straight into traffic to catch the T the way they do now, and it would have been a waste of money. (Not that that has much if anything to do with this story.)

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 9:37 am

    Bridges? Really?

    Crossover bridges are a great idea – expensive project, construction that will inconvenience everyone for a long period of time, and then never get used. If pedestrians don’t bother waiting for walk signals or even looking both ways, how can you possibly believe they’ll take the time and effort to use a crossover bridge? Those generally don’t work, and especially not in a city as notorious for jaywalking as Boston.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 10:04 am


    So in crossing Comm Ave, students are “kids”. In partying on Halloween weekend, they are adults. BU sends out an email warning students about that new high octane drink and the university is accused of treating its students like children. If the “kids” look both ways before crossing, wait for the traffic light and stop looking at their iPhones or iPads, there would be few if any incidents. I learned that as a child.

    Any bridge would have to be wheelchair accessible and would be an enormous undertaking. Most students would still cross the street.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 10:29 am

    What the hell does this story have to do with crossing the street?

  • Useless on 11.05.2010 at 10:32 am


    Why is everyone talking about crossover bridges? The whole accident was caused by a lunatic driving the wrong way up Commonwealth Avenue. If there was no lunatic, there would have been no accident. The road is fine the way it is.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 11:19 am

    What is all this talk about crossover bridges on Comm Ave? They’ll just ice over in winter, they’ll never be wide enough for the pedestrian traffic that occurs between classes, and they are ugly!

    The first thing to worry about are the part of campus where frustrated adults habitually drive the wrong way down streets! This is not hypothetical; we should put a camera by the Storrow drive exit near the GSU or on St. Mary’s Street and get some real data.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 11:24 am

    safty (sic), please, get real. Students need to learn how to cross the street – it’s something they should have learned when they were five years old.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 11:24 am

    Aside from Crossing Bridges...

    Aside from ideas to build crossing bridges, I thought what Mr. Onifade did was indeed noble. I’d have to congratulate him on his efforts. And I wish a speedy recovery to everyone injured in the accident.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 12:02 pm


    Building pedestrian bridges would be just one step short of literally holding these students’ hands as they cross the street. If these young adults who are all 18+ haven’t learned how to safely cross the street by now, I think their lacking knowledge of traffic laws (and just plain common sense) should be put into question before the idea of bridges are even hinted at. Comm Ave is just like every other busy street in America, and with that said even during rush hour the amount of traffic doesn’t compare at all to some other places.

    But getting to the point, I have to with some of the other users – this wasn’t even a problem of knowing how to cross the street, this was a problem of some idiot going the wrong way down a major road.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 12:03 pm

    Where do these comments come from?

    Crossover bridges? What are you talking about? No pedestrians got hit or injured in this completely avoidable mess of an accident. I’m not sure what this guy’s deal was, but at least this is how I saw it happen:

    I was walking back from Kenmore and standing on an island waiting for the light to change when the mentioned vehicle pulled up to the wrong lane of traffic and stopped. He had the music cranked up and was slouched down in the driver’s seat with his foot out the window. The cab directly next to me asked all of us standing on the island to talk to him, tell him to get out of the way and turn around. The man seemed to have no idea that he was going the wrong direction. We tried to talk to him, he started screaming completely incomprehensible jibberish with his head out the window as his car started to roll forward. We all yelled to him to stop, and the driver took off… scraping between two lanes of traffic stopped at the light. He picked up speed as he got past the stopped cars and we ran down the street to see the aftermath mentioned in the article.

    The man that subdued him is absolutely a hero. If the driver had actually managed to get away after such a mess, I would absolutely lose faith in humanity. Thankfully no one was injured and I can only hope that the legal system does this situation justice.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 12:35 pm

    Re-read the article people! Its got nothing to do with pedestrians WALKING across the street incorrectly. Its got to do with some jackass hitting CARS cause he is driving his CAR down the wrong way!!!

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 12:48 pm

    looking both ways is great and all, but a bridge/tunnel, speed cameras and especially red light cameras would be a surefire way to reduce accidents. I mean come on, boston drivers floor it at the sight of a yellow, floor it up and down comm ave, and dont understand how to yield, especially at the university road and comm ave intersection. Drivers need to be aware they are crossing a major college campus, and maybe slow down a bit.

    As a student, I would much rather run up 8 or 9 stairs and cross if i am in a hurry than play frogger. A tunnel would work even better.

  • what is with the crossover bridges? on 11.05.2010 at 12:58 pm

    really people?

    This accident had to do with someone driving the wrong way down Comm Ave, not pedestrians crossing the street. How do the crossover bridges even RELATE to this article?

    The previous posters are correct as well. It would be an expensive, highly unattractive, and rarely (if ever) used by students. Though students should learn to actually look both ways and NOT run in front of the T. But that is beside the point. The point of the article is that some kind of idiot drove the wrong way, and mercifully, no one was hurt that badly.

    I’d love to know what caused the guy t do that, though.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 1:13 pm


  • Antoine on 11.05.2010 at 1:44 pm

    These comments enrages me.

    1. There SHOULD NOT have pedestrian bridges. Not because we won’t use them or because it is expensive, but because Comm Ave should NOT be a highway. Again, Comm Ave is not a highway. Once again, Comm Ave is not a highway. COMM AVE IS NOT A HIGHWAY. Should/Does Tremont Street with Park Street Station have a pedestrian bridge? Or Mass Ave? Or Harvard Square? Or Huntington Ave of Northeastern? No. Pedestrian bridges are for roads like the Mass Pike and Storrow Drive, not Comm Ave and it should never become like them either (I think Storrow Drive should be buried or slowly changed into what a “parkway” is suppose to be).

    2. The jaywalking is not a sign of lack of intelligence, but a combination of a poor signal system, time pressure, accumulated jaywalking culture, and laziness. Many students at BU came from places where jaywalking is unthinkable. However, the time here changed their mines on jaywalking. Pressure of time plays a role in this. For example it may take 5 minutes to go from SMG to Marsh chapel, but additional 5 minutes to get across to the General Classroom Building (GCB). Jaywalking can cut that time to 2 or less. When you only have 10 minutes, that’s a lot. When everyone else is jaywalking, no matter how much mental fortitude you have, you start to subconsciously adopt the culture too.

    The biggest problem is that signal system is broken. I’ll let this article explain for me. http://www.wbur.org/2010/05/10/walk-buttons
    Try crossing Marsh Chapel everyday and tell me how well the system works.

    Now to nick-pick:

    When a pedestrian cross, he ALWAYS have the right of way. It cannot be the other way around as right of way is the rule of who yields to who. The pedestrian always do, if that’s not true, then the driver have right to run him over, which is obviously not true.

    To the person who have to navigate Comm ave and says that it “without having to worry about drunken (or plain stupid) undergrads driving the wrong way down the street.” The man caught was 29 years old from Chelsea. He was not an undergrad or likely not even a student.

    Sadly the previews show that I cannot space my paragraph. Apologies in advance.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 2:48 pm

    “When a pedestrian cross, he ALWAYS have the right of way.”


  • Antoine on 11.05.2010 at 3:53 pm


    Right of way is the rule of who should yield to who. Are you telling me that if a person is in the middle of the road, the driver have the right to not yield and run him over? The pedestrian always have the right of way. It doesn’t mean that the pedestrian can go as he pleases and jaywalking is not illegal, but right of way is about who yields to a pedestrian on the road, even if the right is green. Again, if that is not true, this mean the driver have the right to keep going and run him down.

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 5:04 pm

    you serious?

    Pedestrians don’t gain the right of way by crossing….they may cross once they have the right of way.

    If there’s a car coming and it has the green light, then the pedestrian doesn’t have the right of way and shouldn’t have begun to cross the street…

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 5:16 pm

    This guy HAD to have been strung out on something… I can’t even believe this was possible…

  • Anonymous on 11.05.2010 at 6:15 pm

    Definitely NO

    This is not the rule of “right of way”, but the rule of the road.
    No matter you are a pedestrian or a driver, “RED” means “STOP” and “GREEN” means “GO”. It will be a chaos if we don’t follow the rule.

  • Dan Cusher on 11.06.2010 at 11:31 am

    There's a fine line between bravey and stupidity

    What Marouk Onifade did was suicidal. The suspect could easily have had a gun and killed him. Or worse, the suspect could have shot at him, missed, and killed an innocent bystander who was NOT trying to be a hero. It would be better to let the suspect run free than to risk his own life and the lives of others to catch him. When the suspect ran, no one had been killed yet, but Marouk Onifade could have quickly changed that with his choice to pursue. What he did was not noble – it was just plain reckless.

  • Dan Cusher on 11.06.2010 at 11:34 am

    There's a fine line between bravey and stupidity

    What Marouk Onifade did was suicidal. The suspect could easily have had a gun and killed him. Or worse, the suspect could have shot at him, missed, and killed an innocent bystander who was NOT trying to be a hero. It would be better to let the suspect run free than to risk his own life and the lives of others to catch him. When the suspect ran, no one had been killed yet, but Marouk Onifade could have quickly changed that with his choice to pursue. What he did was not noble – it was just plain reckless.

  • Anonymous on 11.06.2010 at 1:06 pm

    BU Kids Need To Learn The Rules Of The Road...

    Don’t cross the street without looking BOTH ways, cross the street using the CROSSWALKS, and learn how to ride your bicycles. You can still make it to class on time safely if you just grow a brain and not jump into the middle of the street. End of story, problems solved.

    p.s. This is coming from a BU student who makes it to class on time without frustrating drivers or dodging traffic like most of you.

  • Liz on 11.06.2010 at 1:06 pm

    Re: "Pedestrians Always Have Right Of Way"

    Not true. It’s a common misconception. Pedestrians only have the right of way in designated crosswalks and/or on the “walk” signal. If a pedestrian steps out into traffic to cross the street and is hit, the driver isn’t cited. (Unless the pedestrian was in the crosswalk or crossing on the ‘walk’ signal.)

    One example, there was a teenager in my city who was plowed down by an unregistered driver walking to work at 5:30am on a Saturday morning. The driver was arrested and charged (teen was very seriously injured). Her attorney’s defense? “He wasn’t in the crosswalk” (!!!) Case closed.

  • Anonymous on 11.07.2010 at 10:52 am

    "These comments enrages" and "No"

    Are you a BU student? Your writing is atrocious!

  • Steve B on 09.15.2011 at 8:57 am

    Yours is the first post I totally agree with. Is basic grammar not a requirement?

  • Nikki on 01.23.2012 at 5:56 am

    Hey people, no generalist comments about BU students and grammar please. Grammar is undoubtedly a problem among the US public education system.. But as with most cases, we do have to prove that we are able to read and write before admission is granted to elite schools. The person you are criticizing is most likely an isolated, foreign case.

    Regardless, young adults in college… LEARN TO WRITE AND SPEAK PROPERLY. You make us all look bad when you open your mouths or offer your opinions on forums.

    Aside from the grammar issues of today’s youth, another problem is the fact that BU students suck at crossing the street. Use a crosswalk and don’t go when the traffic light is green. How many people have to be hit for you to learn? If the crosswalk light says STOP.. It is not just a suggestion!

    I recognize this article has nothing to do with irresponsible pedestrians, but it offers an opportunity for this more prominent issue to be brought to light. In my four years at BU, I don’t remember a problem with a car going the wrong way on a one-way street. I do, however, remember the frequency that students were either put into the hospital or killed because of their own stupidity while crossing comm ave.

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