MassDOT contractor facing heat after fatal collision

Firm’s employee involved in crash that killed 13-year-old

THE MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION is starting the new year reviewing a contract it has with a highway safety company after one of the firm’s employees was allegedly driving drunk during a fatal collision.

Gregory Goodsell was driving a Hi-Way Safety Systems pickup truck at 7 a.m. on Sunday when he allegedly drove through a red light in Pembroke and hit a Subaru carrying a woman and two 13-year-old girls. One of the girls eventually died from her injuries.

Hi-Way Safety, based in Rockland, provides traffic control equipment and safety board messages to the state Department of Transportation. The company referred questions to its attorney, who was not available for comment.

Separately, another Hi-Way Safety Systems employee, Joseph Amaral, was found unresponsive Sunday morning at 8 a.m. at a motel in Rockland. He was transported to a hospital where he was declared dead. No details have been released on the cause of death

Office of the Comptroller records show that Hi-Way Safety Systems was paid $4 million in 2019 by MassDOT, and a total of $31 million from state agencies in the past decade.

Records on file with the Department of Transportation indicate Hi-Way Safety has 118 registered drivers and 94 registered vehicles. Over the last two years, the company has been the focus of 29 police or DOT inspections, which resulted in 42 violations.

Goodsell himself has a marred driving history, with 15 infractions, including two crashes. He is being held without bail and has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter while driving under the influence. His license has been suspended by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

NBC10 Boston reports that prosecutors say Goodsell admitted to being impaired after consuming cocaine at a Christmas party thrown by his boss before the collision. He also allegedly had a half-bottle of whiskey in the truck, and witnesses say he was speeding before the crash.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

A petition on change.org calling on MassDOT to revoke all “current and future contracts” with Hi-Way Safety Systems has attracted more than  8,800 signatures. One commenter said “a company-sponsored Christmas party whose host allows a person to get drunk, then drive away in a company truck, is not a company that deserves state dollars.”

The petition itself says the company is supposed to be responsible for highway safety, “while these actions represent the opposite of this.”