By John Lynds and Seth Daniel
An alleged game of street racing turned deadly last week on McCLellan Highway, killing a Chelsea student and injuring another teen.
Jonathan Hernandez Flores died instantly last Wednesday night when the car he was driving hit another vehicle driven by an acquaintance, spun out of control and collided with a utility pole on the southbound side of McClellan near Addison Street.
“It seems the teen that died and his friend sped through the intersection at Boardman and McClellan and their cars touched,” said District A-7 Captain Kelly McCormack. “Once they touched both vehicles went out of control and in a split second one kid was killed and the other injured.”
The crash occurred with such intensity that it split the vehicle Flores was driving into two pieces.
Eric Danilchuk, who owns the autobody shop directly across the highway from where the accident occurred said in his opinion that the rate of travel had to be well over 100 mph. Danilchuk said given that newer cars have reinforced cabins and other safety measures it was his opinion that the car had to exceed the 100 mph mark in order to be split in two with ease.
This was the second deadly accident involving speed in just a few weeks and the third since 2019. All the deadly accidents involved young adults.
Last month East Boston High School graduates Isaiah Ortiz and Alexander Cabrera were killed when their vehicle collided with a pole on Chelsea Street. Back in 2019 a college student from Rhode Island, Amber Pelletier, was killed when the car she was a passenger in collided with several parked cars and then flipped over on Bennington Street.
On Thursday Chelsea High students were grieving with one another outdoors at the football stadium behind the school. Students were given space today (Friday) to grieve with counseling at Chelsea Stadium.
Chelsea School Supt. Almi Abeyta said students are feeling the loss, and that Flores was a long-time student in Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) – now attending the Chelsea Opportunity Academy (COA).
“This is a very sad loss that impacts all of us,” wrote Abeyta in the letter. “Jonathan attended his whole educational career in CPS – going to the John Silber Early Learning Center, Berkowitz Elementary School, Clark Avenue Middle School, and Chelsea High School before he transferred to Chelsea Opportunity Academy. We, the Chelsea Public Schools, extend our deepest condolences and support to Jonathan’s family and friends…Our thoughts and prayers are with Jonathan’s family.”
The family of Jonathan Hernandez have started a GoFundMe page this week, and posted the following statement about Hernandez.
“Hello everyone, we say this with a heavy heart,” it read. “Our family was stricken with a terrible tragedy. Our Jonathan was involved in a serious car accident and unfortunately he is no longer with us. It goes without saying that these are very tough times. We ask that if anyone is willing to donate to his services, please do. Anything helps. He was loved by many and this is very tough for everyone.”
Chelsea Opportunity Academy Principal Ron Schmidt has reached out to the family for support from the district. The family has asked the public to respect their privacy while they grieve.
Chelsea students were given space at the football stadium today, with counseling and the like. Social distancing protocols will be in place, and staff members are being provided space to grieve in online sessions.
The GoFundMe page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/fmnb4-jonathan-hernandez.
At an Orient Heights Neighborhood Association meeting Monday night Captain McCormack vowed to look more closely at neighborhood streets and intersections where people are habitually speeding and explore traffic calming measures.
“Speed can be dangerous to us all so I’m going to look at these areas,” he said.