Airborne Manhole Cover Hits SUV, Kills Driver

Authorities have no idea what made the 200-pound cover to fly into the air
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2016 6:40 PM CST
Airborne Manhole Cover Hits SUV, Kills Driver
A police vehicle is parked in front of an uncovered manhole after its cover killed a driver when it flew up in the air and crashed through her windshield as she drove on a Boston highway Friday morning.   (Steve Annear)

A dislodged manhole cover weighing more than 200 pounds went airborne and crashed through an SUV's windshield on a major highway, killing a woman as she drove during the Friday morning commute in Boston, the AP reports. Gov. Charlie Baker calls the incident "bizarre" and says highway crews were checking other manhole covers in the travel lanes of area highways to determine if any others were loose. After the manhole cover struck the driver's windshield, the Honda SUV continued forward before striking a wall on the left shoulder and coming to a stop, he says. It's unclear what caused the manhole cover to become dislodged. State police say they were examining the manhole cover to determine if it had "excessive wear, deformation, or any other characteristics."

In response to the death, state transportation workers were sent out to check about 500 manhole covers, grates, and utility panels in the travel lanes of highways around the Boston area, highway administrator Thomas Tinlin says. Depending on what is found, the inspections could be expanded to outside the Boston area. The manhole cover that killed the woman covers a storm drainage system and was last inspected in June 2014, Tinlin says. There was no indication the cover had been removed recently. Baker says he will wait for the investigation to be completed and will not speculate on how the incident may have occurred. He says highway officials could not recall a similar incident in recent memory. (Read more manhole cover stories.)

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