Oak Bluffs police said this week that Brandy Marie Gibson, the 20-year-old Island woman who was killed in a two-car motor vehicle accident, was driving more than twice the legal speed limit when her vehicle hit a delivery truck at the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven and County Roads on Jan. 29.
A press release from the Oak Bluffs police detailed the preliminary findings of a Massachusetts State Police accident reconstruction. The report found that Ms. Gibson’s 1993 Oldsmobile sedan was traveling 82 miles per hour as she approached the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven and County Roads, traveling west toward Vineyard Haven. The speed limit along that portion of roadway is 35 miles per hour.
Police said Ms. Gibson was traveling west on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road around 10:30 p.m. when her car struck a Humphreys bakery delivery van driven by Francellyo C. Dias. Mr. Dias was turning left toward Edgartown at the time.
No one involved in the accident was wearing a seat belt, police said.
Ms. Gibson was later pronounced dead at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Both Mr. Dias, 25, of Vineyard Haven, and his passenger, Lessa Keila, were flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and later released following treatment.
The accident reconstruction found that Ms. Gibson’s vehicle left a single skid mark measuring 67 feet long, and that her estimated speed upon impact with the van was 73 miles per hour. The delivery van was traveling at 9 miles per hour at the time of impact, which is consistent with someone starting or turning from a stop, the police report said.
Oak Bluffs police are still awaiting medical records and a toxicology report from the state medical examiner’s office before closing the investigation.
Mr. Dias, a native of Brazil, did not have a valid Massachusetts drivers license at the time of the accident, and police plan to charge him with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Police also plan to cite Humphreys for allowing an unlicensed vehicle to operate a motor vehicle.
According to court records, Mr. Dias was previously charged with operating a motor vehicle without a license. The charges were dismissed after he paid a fine and performed community service.
News of the accident continued to generate a negative backlash across the Island this week in the form of letters to the editor and on-line forums on Island newspaper Web sites. Many of the comments carried an anti-Brazilian sentiment and strayed into a wider debate about immigration issues.
Michael Diaz, the owner of Humphreys, told the Gazette this week that he was disappointed by some of the negative reaction to the accident.
“This was an unfortunate accident that took the life of a beautiful girl and shattered the lives of two other people. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms. Gibson’s friend and family, as well as with Francellyo Dias and Lessa Keila, whose lives have been forever changed,” Mr. Diaz said, adding:
“We feel bad that along with the grief and loss, [Francellyo Dias and Less Keila] have to endure the negativity and media attention this has generated.”
Mr. Diaz said Mr. Dias and Ms. Keila are back on the Vineyard recovering from their injuries. Mr. Dias will have to wear a neck brace for several more months, Mr. Diaz said, while Ms. Keila has lingering injuries that make it difficult for her to work.
“This has been especially hard on them, they did nothing to bring this on themselves. But they are recovering with the help of their friends and family and their church,” he said.
Mr. Diaz said he was not aware Mr. Dias did not have a valid driver’s license. He said he frequently saw Mr. Dias driving his personal vehicle to work, and always assumed that he had a driver’s license.
“This could have happened to anyone. I talked to Francellyo, and he said there was nothing he could have done [to prevent the accident], but he still felt horrible after hearing about [Ms. Gibson’s] death. The police said his very first concern after the accident was not himself, but his passenger and the other girl [Ms. Gibson],” he said.