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Teen's death changes law

Martinellis, Brewer lead effort on vehicular homicide

Rob Martinelli at his graduation from North Brookfield High School in the spring of 2001. (click for larger version)
September 21, 2010
NORTH BROOKFIELD — Eight years ago, Rob Martinelli was starting his sophomore year at Worcester State College and already knew he wanted to be a criminal justice major.

But he never finished it. On Sept. 8, 2002, he was killed by a speeding driver who had a record of multiple driving infractions and had passed several other vehicles en route up Airport Drive in Worcester before slamming into Martinelli's car.

The other driver later pled guilty to vehicular homicide, but was allowed to go home from the accident scene. As of Nov. 10, that will no longer happen — reckless or negligent drivers who hurt or kill someone can thereafter be arrested on the scene, thanks to a new law in Rob Martinelli's name.

His mother, Denise, found out the hard way. That same day, Rob's older sister Kristina had been named Soldier of the Year at Fort Devens, and Kristina tried reaching Rob to tell him without success. At first, nobody thought anything of it, with Denise Martinelli noting teenagers sometimes ignore family phone calls.

A little later, "there was a knock on the door, and I said 'come in,' but the door didn't open," Denise Martinelli said. "I went to the door and there were three police officers, a priest and a minister."

Three days later, the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the family held Rob's wake.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

Stonebridge Press
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