Family Files Civil Suit for Wrongful Death in Wreck
WESTFORD -- The woman accused of causing a fatal crash in Westford on June 8 told a doctor after the early-morning wreck she had a “few glasses of wine earlier that night,” court documents state.
A subsequent search warrant of 45-year-old Westford resident Julie Gagnon-Erickson’s medical records determined her blood alcohol concentration at the time of the crash to be 0.2 percent -- more than two times the state’s legal limit, according to the statement of the case filed by prosecutors Aug. 1.
“It was also learned that the defendant had been traveling at an estimated speed of 80 mph, going the wrong direction on I-495 for a period of minutes, passing numerous individuals who in turn called 911 to report it,” the document states.
Gagnon-Erickson was arraigned on a charge of motor vehicular homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol in Lowell Superior Court on Oct. 16, according to Elizabeth Vlock, a spokesperson for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
As the criminal side of the case progresses, a wrongful death civil suit has also been filed against Gagnon-Erickson on behalf of the estate of Raming Medina Cabreha, the 35-year-old Worcester man killed in the violent wreck.
The suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, was announced in a press release issued by the Salem-based Mazow & McCullough law firm on Oct. 19.
“The lawsuit is seeking compensation for the wrongful death of Mr. Cabreja, including pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and loss of the care, comfort, and advise that he provided to his family,” stated Lisbette Taveras, a spokesperson for the law firm, in an email.
According to the Oct. 19 press release, the Cabreja family would not respond to questions from the media.
“The family continues to try to cope with the sudden and unexpected loss as best they can,” Taveras said.
The crash happened at around 2 a.m. June 8 after State Police received several calls reporting a motor vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed in the wrong direction on Interstate 495. The vehicle was heading northbound in the southbound lanes of the highway near Route 119 in Littleton, according to State Police.
Shortly after, police received a report of a two-car crash near the Boston Road exit in Westford.
Trooper Christopher Lopilato arrived at the scene where he found a 2018 Nissan Rogue, driven by Gagnon-Erickson, with heavy frontend damage, according to the prosecution’s statement of the case. Gagnon-Erickson was entrapped in the driver’s seat of the vehicle but conscious and alert, prosecutors say.
“Her eyes were bloodshot and glassy and an odor of alcohol was emanating from the interior of the vehicle,” the document states. “The defendant told the trooper that she entered the highway a few exits ago and was on her way home from her yoga studio.”
When the trooper asked if she consumed any alcohol, she said she “had a glass of wine earlier that night,” according to prosecutors. Prosecutors allege Gagnon-Erickson later changed the number of drinks she had to a “few glasses of wine” when talking to a doctor treating her at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Gagnon-Erickson was flown by MedFlight to the Boston hospital after being removed from her vehicle by the Jaws of Life by the Westford Fire Department.
Meanwhile, Cabreja was pronounced dead at the scene of the wreck. His Honda Civic was found by emergency crews off the roadway also with heavy front-end damage, according to the statement of the case.
“The Westford Fire Department used the Jaws of Life to remove his body which was then transported to the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office,” the document states.
After removing Cabreja’s body from the car, a severely injured dog was also found inside the vehicle. The animal was transported to Westford Animal Hospital.
Taveras revealed the dog survived the crash and has undergone multiple surgeries.
“She is doing well and has to undergo additional surgeries in the future,” Taveras added.
Following Gagnon-Erickson’s arraignment on Oct. 16, she was released on her own personal recognizance under the conditions she not leave the state without permission, according to Vlock. She must also continue to surrender her passport, not operate a motor vehicle and remain drug and alcohol free.
Gagnon-Erickson is slated to reappear in court for a pretrial conference on Dec. 13.
Attempts to reach the defendant’s attorney, Louis Aloise, of the Aloise & Wilcox law firm based in Worcester, were unsuccessful.
Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis