and Chris Lisinski
WESTFORD -- It happened in an instant. A middle-aged woman was crushed to death Thursday by her own car in a freak accident in a crowded parking lot.
The accident in the Market Basket lot of the Cornerstone Square shopping center left shoppers running errands dazed, confused. Many didn't even know it had happened, witnesses said.
Many only saw the aftermath of the tragic accident in which a woman was struck and pinned beneath her own vehicle.
The accident occurred shortly before 11:30 a.m. in the Cornerstone Square shopping center. A few hours after the accident, authorities reported the woman, described as in her 50s, had died of her injuries.
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The victim was standing at the rear of her Toyota Highlander when a second vehicle, in the process of parking, hit her car, causing it to roll backwards into the victim and pinning her underneath, according to a joint press release from Westford Police Chief Thomas McEnaney and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.
The victim's identity has not been released pending notification of next of kin.
The other driver remained on the scene, police said. No charges have been filed, but the investigation is continuing.
Donna Robinson of Chelmsford doesn't frequent the shopping mall, and usually tries to avoid the parking lot, but is sometimes in the area because her daughter attends Nashoba Valley Technical High School nearby.
"I don't like going to that Market Basket because it's the worst parking lot I've ever seen. Very congested," she said. "When you're backing out, it's almost like you don't have a car length to back up."
Robinson happened to be driving by the scene, just one row of parking spaces over, after the accident occurred.
"I just saw the first responder doing compressions on the lady, so I pulled over and I watched until they got her in the ambulance," Robinson said.
Robinson was in the area around noon and said she didn't leave until around 2 p.m.
Hank Plaistek of Littleton was in the area after he got a haircut for his birthday. He didn't see much, but snapped a few photos of the scene. He doesn't frequent the shopping center, either.
"Most of the people there were unaware what was going on because it was business as usual around that perimeter," he said. "I've never been so close to a police line where no one knew what was going on."
Plaistek said he went into Market Basket to get something to eat and overheard customers asking the employees if they knew what happened. He said most employees said they did not know.
He said police used shopping carts to barricade that section of the parking lot, where those who were parked near the accident scene were held for a while.
"The police and fire department seemed to have a good handle on it," Plaistek said. "They kept everyone calm. There wasn't much frenzy afterwards."
Police tape blocked off the parking lot where the incident occurred in front of Market Basket and the Xfinity store. Three Westford police cruisers were at the scene and a fire truck left shortly after 3:15 p.m. The victim's car was towed from the scene.
Customers curiously looked beyond the police tape.
Employees of the businesses nearby either said they could not comment on the incident or that they had not seen anything.
Westford police, the Middlesex DA and the state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section are investigating the incident.
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