BOXFORD (CBS) -- Authorities believe that drag racing on the southbound side of Interstate 95 Saturday night was the cause of the fatal crash.
State Police said Michael Espinola, 38, was racing southbound when he crossed into oncoming traffic. That's when his BMW convertible ran head-on into an Acura MDX and a Honda Civic.
A 64-year-old man and woman from North Hampton, New Hampshire were in the Acura. A 43-year-old woman and her 12-year-old passenger were in the Honda. The four were injured in the crash and taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Espinola's family doesn't believe the report of drag racing.
Espinola's stepson Alec Olson says that doesn't sound like the Michael Espinola he knows.
"He was the kind of guy who would give you his shirt," Olson said.
He says if his stepfather was racing, he wants to see the evidence.
"If he was racing, who is the person he was racing? You know, what is the license number? What's the make of the car? What's the color of the car? All that, where's all that" Olson said.
"Personally I don't think he was racing. But reconstruction, state police. We'll see what it comes down to," Olson said.
State police say that Saturday night they received several 911 calls reporting two vehicles racing southbound on the highway.
Boxford Deputy Fire Chief Michael Madden said Espinola, a resident of Peabody, was in "traumatic arrest" when he was pulled from his BMW. Espinola was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
For the family members, the whole episode seems unreal.
"I can't even just fathom. I just don't, I just, it's not real, like I'm in a dream," Olson said.
The first collision happened at 9:52 p.m. A second one, involving a Toyota and semi-tractor-trailer, happened about an hour later around 11 p.m., and only one exit away at Exit 52.
"The Toyota was crashed into the rear corner of a semi-truck and spun into a nearby wood," Madden said.
The driver, a woman in her 30s had to be freed using the Jaws of Life. She was flown to a Boston hospital with serious injuries, Madden said.
Madden said he was surprised by seeing two severe crashes that close together.
"While our small department is no stranger to incidents on the highway, it's certainly rare to encounter back-to-back crashes of this magnitude," he said.
The northbound side of I-95 was reopened around 1 a.m. Sunday.
The crashes are still under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police.
for more features.