Three killed, 10 injured in US as car ploughs through crowded vehicle auction

A photo of the scene uploaded to social media.
A photo of the scene uploaded to social media.PHOTO: TWITTER/CHRISTINA HAGER

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Three people were killed and 10 hurt on Wednesday (May 3) when a car being readied for sale was accidentally driven through a crowded auto auction in Billerica, Massachusetts, a prosecutor said.

An employee of Lynnway Auto Auction was moving a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee inside a warehouse when it barrelled into a crowd of bidders shortly after 10am (10pm Singapore time), Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

Television aerial footage showed that the Jeep smashed through the concrete wall of the warehouse, where several hundred people had gathered for a weekly auction.

“The preliminary information that we have right now is that it was a tragic accident,” Ryan told a news conference.

She said the driver was a man in his 70s, but declined to comment on media reports that he may have mistaken the brake and accelerator pedals.

A man and two women were killed, and 10 people were taken to hospitals, Ryan said. Two people had life-threatening injuries and eight were seriously hurt, she said.

Woody Tuttle, an auto auction employee, told ABC affiliate WCVB-TV that people were standing between lanes of cars when the Jeep raced through the auction building, which is the length of a football field.

“I heard a screeching of tyres, and, I believe, a Jeep Cherokee went flying by me. In avoiding the cars, whoever was driving this vehicle hit several people,” Tuttle said.

Lynnway’s website bills the company as the largest auto auction in New England. A company Facebook posting just before the crash showed a photo of vehicles and said that cars were “lined up and ready for a beautiful Wednesday morning.”

The Massachusetts State Police said in a statement, “There is no evidence or information to suggest the incident was caused by an intentional or terrorist act.”