Driver won’t face criminal charges in crash that claimed life of 5-year-old Andover girl

Local News

“When Sidney died, it left an immeasurable hole in our lives.”

The driver of the tractor trailer that struck and killed a 5-year-old Andover girl in May will not face criminal charges, the Essex County District Attorney’s office announced Friday. 

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On May 9, 5-year-old Sidney Mae Olson was riding her scooter to an art class when she and another family member entered the crosswalk at the intersection of Elm Street and Route 28. She was hit by a tractor trailer that had stopped at the interaction when it began to move forward as the light turned green, officials said.

In a Friday statement, the DA’s office said the “thorough and detailed” investigation into the crash included reviewing crash reconstruction, video from inside the truck, evaluating the traffic and pedestrian signals in the intersection, a visibility study, and interviewing witnesses.

“The investigative findings do not provide sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against the driver of the tractor trailer,” the DA’s office said. “The driver was stopped at the intersection. As he began to advance forward on the light turning green, he was unable to see Ms. Olson traveling on her scooter in the crosswalk below. The driver was not impaired by any substances and immediately came to a controlled stop after the collision.”

In a statement released by the DA’s office, the 5-year-old’s parents, Eric Olson and Mary Beth Ellis, said they were “relieved to reach closure in the criminal investigation.”

“When Sidney died, it left an immeasurable hole in our lives,” they said. “We miss her giggly laugh, dimpled smile, and kind heart. We know this crash devastated everyone involved, and we’re thankful for the tough work done by the Andover Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Essex County District Attorney.

“Today’s decision doesn’t change the terrible truth: The crash that killed Sidney, like 42,000 U.S. traffic deaths last year, was preventable,” they added.

Olson and Ellis said their charity, the Sidney Mae Olson Rainbow Fund, is calling for “Safe Streets for People” on Nov. 19 — World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims — and holding “Sidney’s Rainbow Run” in Andover on Thanksgiving Day in commemoration.

“Small changes make a big difference,” they said. “Simple safety features, like cross-view mirrors that are now required on state-owned trucks in Massachusetts thanks to the vulnerable road users law, could have saved Sidney’s life. The solutions to these problems exist. We just need to implement them.”

The girl’s parents called businesses, local officials, and the state Legislature to all take steps to make the roads safer. 

Read their full statement below: 

We’re relieved to reach closure in the criminal investigation. When Sidney died, it left an immeasurable hole in our lives. We miss her giggly laugh, dimpled smile, and kind heart. We know this crash devastated everyone involved, and we’re thankful for the tough work done by the Andover Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and the Essex County District Attorney.

Today’s decision doesn’t change the terrible truth: The crash that killed Sidney, like 42,000 U.S. traffic deaths last year, was preventable.

We’re fortunate to live in Andover where public officials care, and we’re grateful for their collaboration on safety improvements to Elm Square, the intersection where Sidney was killed, and reduced speeds throughout town. Unfortunately, that’s not common, in spite of the fact that these are known solutions for preventing deaths and serious injuries.

That’s why on Sunday November 19th, our charity, the Sidney Mae Olson Rainbow Fund, is calling for “Safe Streets for People” on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. We’ll commemorate the day with “Sidney’s Rainbow Run” in Andover on Thanksgiving Day.

Small changes make a big difference. Simple safety features, like cross-view mirrors that are now required on state-owned trucks in Massachusetts thanks to the vulnerable road users law, could have saved Sidney’s life.

The solutions to these problems exist. We just need to implement them.

Billions in funding for improvements is available through state and federal programs. If you’re a resident, share your stories with local officials. It makes a difference. 

Business owners, please recognize that many Massachusetts cities and towns are actually thickly settled neighborhoods, not built for large trucks. Review when and how deliveries happen — and update your trucks with the safety guards, cross-over mirrors, and backup cameras now required on state-owned trucks and proven to help drivers spot people like Sidney.

Legislature, clear the way for automated enforcement, a proven way to reduce deaths and serious injuries used by 26 other states, by passing House Bill 3393.

In life, Sidney wanted nothing more than to bring people together. In her death, we hope we can all work together to implement the proven solutions capable of addressing this public health crisis, making our roads safe and our neighborhoods more livable for all.


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