Drag racers said to hit cars

September 7, 2007
By

JOHN RUCH

WOODBOURNE—Most nights, Dianne Juarez says, she only hears the drag racers on Hyde Park Avenue.

But twice this year, she said, they made more lasting marks of their passing by wrecking into her parked car.

“It was like an explosion that woke us up,” Juarez said of the latest hit-and-run accident in front of her 319 Hyde Park Ave. home.

The Aug. 23 early-morning wreck, reportedly involving a red Toyota that fled the scene, took off her front bumper and fender and a side mirror. The explosion sound was the tire of her neighbor’s SUV being blown out by the impact.

A similar hit-and-run in March took off her side mirror as well, and scratched her car’s door, Juarez said.

The damage costs her a $300 insurance deductible every time, she said.

“There’s a lot of drag racing every night,” Juarez said, adding that racing—and crashing—is a widespread problem among teenage drivers. “One of my daughter’s friends lost his front teeth doing it,” she said.

Juarez lives near Pagel Playground and recalled the accident there last year, where joyriding teenagers fleeing the police crashed into a light pole, killing a 15-year-old passenger. That crash did not appear to involve drag racing.

Juarez has lived on Hyde Park Avenue for 15 years and said the drag racing is a relatively recent problem. She said she believes drag racers have migrated to the area after a police crackdown on American Legion Highway.

On Aug. 28, the Gazette observed two heavily modified, drag racing-type cars weaving aggressively through traffic on that stretch of Hyde Park Avenue, headed toward Roslindale/Hyde Park. They did not appear to be racing each other, just darting through traffic.

Community Service Officer Nadine Taylor-Miller of the local E-18 Police Station confirmed the American Legion Highway crackdown, carried out in a joint operation with West Roxbury officers.

But, she added, “We haven’t had that kind of complaint about Hyde Park Avenue”—or at least, not the Jamaica Plain end of it. Drag racing complaints are known from the Roslindale/Hyde Park end, she said.

Taylor-Miller noted that the Aug. 23 accident report made no mention of drag racing, and said that a check of police call logs revealed no drag racing complaints.

Juarez said she has complained to E-18 police many times and tried the Mayor’s Office as well.

Taylor-Miller emphasized that residents should call 911 with all such complaints to establish a pattern. Enforcement is based on 911 complaint data.

Officer Mike Santry, the auto investigator at the E-13 Police Station, which covers most of JP, echoed that recommendation. He said he is unaware of any current drag racing complaints in JP.

Hit-and-run accidents are certainly common. The E-13 incident log regularly shows at least twice as many hit-and-runs as accidents where someone stops to give their information. Between July 16 and Aug. 6, there were 20 hit-and-runs reported in E-13.

“Ninety percent of hit-and-runs are minor,” Santry said—broken lights or scraped fenders. Speeding is often a factor, he said, adding that another factor may be people moving into Boston and being unfamiliar with its narrow streets.

For residents in E-13, Santry noted that the JP Traffic and Parking Committee can help find solutions. The police-community group is making regular alterations to traffic conditions on various neighborhood streets. It meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the E-13 Police Station, 3345 Washington St.

Sandra Storey contributed to this article.