Mother of three killed during first day of work at Billerica auto auction

BILLERICA, MA (WHDH) - Three people were killed and several others were seriously injured Wednesday morning when Billerica police say a Jeep Grand Cherokee plowed through a crowd of people before crashing through a concrete wall at the Lynnway Auto Auction.

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Hundreds of people were inside when an employee, said to be is in his 70’s, accidentally accelerated the SUV forward at a high rate of speed into a group of people inside the building, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

Two women and 1 man were killed, Ryan said. One victim was identified as 37-year-old Leezandra Aponte, a Lowell native and mother of three. The wounded, with broken bones and gashes to the head, were seen laid out on the ground until paramedics could arrive. Nine people were rushed to the hospital.

It was Aponte’s first time working at the auction and she was just 90 minutes into her one-time shift.

“We just lost our sister, daughter and mother,” said Orlando Aponte, Leezandra’s brother. “She leaves behind three kids. One just joined the Army and graduates next week.”

The tight-knit family was left devastated following the tragic accident. They say Aponte was on the job to make some extra money to pay for her daughter’s Quinceanera.

“She was a good mother. She was a great mother,” said Orlando. “She was the godmother to my child, who is supposed to be baptized in a couple weeks.”

Her father was so distraught that he had to walk away, struggling to speak.

“She was always smiling,” said Aponte’s father. “She was making everyone happy all the time.”

The president of the auto auction says the man behind the wheel is a longtime employee. The man will not be allowed back on the job until an investigation is complete.

“It hurts. One day your here, one day your not,” Aponte’s boyfriend said.

OSHA told 7News that the company was fined back in 2014 for two serious violations. They both have since been fixed.

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