July 7, 1998
Police: Bike Fatality Was a Hit and Run
By MELISSA DUPONT TAB
The mysterious accident that killed a 20-year-old bicyclist on Commonwealth Avenue last month has been labeled a motor vehicle homicide, Boston Police said last
Investigators are now searching for the driver of the car that struck Boston University student, Meghan Birdsall, 20, on the service road of the inbound side of
Commonwealth Avenue at about 1:45 a.m. on June 22. Police say the vehicle was a late model, American-made car with undercarriage damage. No witnesses have come forward
with information that could help officials piece together details of the accident.
For the victim's family the unanswered questions surrounding her death are haunting. Meghan's father, George Birdsall, said he hopes someone will contact police with
information that will take some of the mystery out of the events that led to his daughter's death.
"We can't bring Meghan back," he said. "But it would certainly help if we had some answers. Somewhere out there is a car that killed someone and ran
away. I am sure it wasn't done on purpose, but it would be better for him to come clean and for us if we just knew what happened."
When police arrived in front of 1111 Commonwealth Avenue at 1:50 a.m. Birdsall was found lying on her back, unconscious and bleeding from her head. She was
transported to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and hooked up to life support. She died three days later on June 25. Police at the scene of the accident noted that
Birdsall's bicycle was not damaged, though the seat was tilted back. There were no skid marks at the scene. The street was slick with oil and part of a car's aluminum oil
pan, including a plug, was found nearby. Birdsall did not appear to have been run over.
At first investigators considered the possibility that Birdsall had fallen from her bike.
"But the extent of her injuries ruled that out," said Boston Police Officer John Collins. Collins, who has been conducting the investigation in conjunction
with Sgt. Matthew Whalen. "We believe either she was walking or dropped the bike when she got hit. The car struck her left leg and knocked her down on the right."
No oil was found on the bicycle, which was lying on the ground beside Birdsall when officers arrived. Collins said the absence of skid marks at the scene could be
explained by newer brake systems that don't leave marks. But police are still just guessing about what happened said Collins.
"It's tough because there is not a lot of physical evidence," he said. "It is all theory right now."
When a car loses its oil pan and plug, all the oil in the engine spills out, police said. Since this means a car would become inoperable after a short distance,
police believed the car with a broken pan might still be in Allston-Brighton.
Investigators, who have already alerted repair shops, are now inspecting the underside of cars that matched the description of the model identified by specialists,
Whalen said. Officials have been told that the replacement of an oil pan is a complicated procedure that would probably need to be done by a dealer. George Birdsall said
he believes the driver is not the only one with an idea about what occurred on Commonwealth Avenue at that early hour, there might also have been a passenger in the car,
a tow truck driver, a mechanic consulted for advice or the repair, and friends, neighbors and family members who know that someone's car is not working because of
"The thing is, someone has the answer, " he said.
To report any information about what happened on June 22, contact the Crime Stoppers hot line, at 1-800-494-TIPS. Boston University has pledged to match the Crime
Stopper reward of up to $1000.
Copyright 1995-1998 Community Newspaper Company. All rights reserved.