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Police seek pickup in mattress-caused fatality of popular counselor

Boston Mattress Fatality

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Mass. State Police today are seeking a large white pickup truck with black netting or a black tarp that partially covered the cargo bed's cargo of bedding after one of the mattresses it was carrying fell out of the bed and onto busy Route 95 South near one of the state's busiest malls, causing a series of incidents that ended up with a driver losing her life after she managed to stop her car short of the bedding lying in the middle travel lane.

A heroic act

Although not directly calling it a heroic act to the Boston Globe and Boston.com, David Procopio, a spokesman for the Mass. State Police, also headquartered in Framingham, was describing what could be little else in an interview.

The State Police spokesman described how Frida Litvak, driving behind a large pickup truck that spilled part of its load onto the roadway, managed to bring her Toyota to a stop short of the mattress. Litvak's excellent driving skills kept her vehicle in one lane, saving others from being part of the incident.

Car stayed in lane

Generous in his praise, Procopio noted that 54-year-old Frida Litvak, a relatively recent emigre to the United States from the Ukraine, “may well have prevented someone else from dying” by keeping her car straight in lane, rather than going to the left or right, possibly involving someone else.

Litvak's stopped car was struck in the rear by a speeding pickup truck, driven by Andrew Lawendowski of Charlton, located in Central Massachusetts. To date, no charges have been filed in the traffic incident. The Boston Globe noted that both drivers were belted at the time of the accident.

Litvak's lighter Toyota flipped into the air, after the impact, and ended up on its side in the middle of traffic on the heavily used southbound side of the roadway.

Near busy mall

It is amazing that no one else was injured in the accident as Litvak was headed south to pick up her 96-year-old father following a doctor's appointment at the Lahey Clinic also located near the heavily used mall.

The same hospital called the family to let them know of the accident and Frida's death, the Globe noted.

Galina Litvak, who lived with her sister, mother and father in the same Framingham apartment complex, told Peter Shworm, reporter for the Globe and Boston.com, that she knew something was wrong. “I knew something was wrong even before they (the hospital) called,” Galina said, “because she was never late to pick him (her father) up.”

Hopes for capture

Galina told the Globe/Boston.com, the she hoped they (the State Police) would track the two men in the pickup that started the chain of events. “You have to think before you do something,” she told the Globe reporter emphatically in an interview. “A lot of people (here) drive like they are the only person on the road.”

(There's a strictly enforced Massachusetts load statute that carries a rather stiff fine of about $500 for an unsecured load in a rear dump bed. When it was first proposed and passed about 20 years ago, truck owners predicted it would be the end of trucking in Massachusetts. However, the owners were wrong because the complied with the law as it was applied fairly across the board. It was passed after several rather nasty incidents during the “Big Dig,” where gravel or large rocks fell from dump beds on Class 7 to Class 9 pickups, causing several serious injuries among the general driving population. The law has served its purpose. – Author. The author of this piece has been covering the Boston automotive scene for various papers and online outlets for more than 40 years.)

Galina was told, by the State Police, that the mattress that ended up on the roadway was one of several piled in the pickup box.

Seeking truck

The Massachusetts State Police today, said the Boston Globe/Boston.com, is looking for a large dump truck with a white cab and black webbing or a tarp on the back. The truck bed is believed to be dark with wood on the sides and two men on-board. Procopio told the Globe they have many leads that they are following up.

Frida and Galina lived in the same apartment complex as their parents for whom Frida cared. Frida read regularly to her father after he lost his sight. “She was his eyes, arms and his ears,” Galina told The Boston Globe's Shworm during an interview at her parents' apartment. Nearby, sat Galina's fretting mother, wringing her hands, a family friend comforting her, as her husband just shook his head.

Loss will be felt

Frida's loss will be felt in the Russian emigres community. Metrowest has one of the largest Russian communities in this area.

A giving person, Frida, who began her career in the Ukraine as a construction engineer and after arriving here 14 years ago found that she could unsnarl the most knotted problems. As she worked with community members, Frida learned about the forms needed. She also liked helping the community so she went back to school and obtained her Master's Degree in Social Welfare from Cambridge College so she could counsel former Russians in the ways of their new home. To Frida, it was all good because she “loved helping people,” Galina told The Globe.

When it occurred

Frida worked at Elliot Community Human Services in recent years. She had left a bit early yesterday to pick up her elderly father at a doctor's appointment.

Well-liked where she lived, neighbors had kind words for Frida Litvak, where she was described as a friendly woman who went out of her way to help others. Liso Porto, one of the neighbors interviewed by The Globe/Boston.com, said she felt “...bad because she was a nice lady.” Another neighbor, Marta Risman, said, “I'm so sorry...remembering how good she was to her father...she was a very good person.”