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Safety experts say rollaway accident that killed beloved North Reading woman could have been prevented

North Reading mourns Roselyn Gray, killed when car rolled backwards
North Reading mourns Roselyn Gray, killed when car rolled backwards 02:32

NORTH READING - "Parking for Roselyn Gray Only" says a sign in front of the North Reading Moose Lodge. Inside, flowers and a Michelob Ultra sit on the bar in front of her seat, set up as a memorial to the beloved 80-year-old fixture. 

It's been empty since a tragic accident, that some now say was preventable. "We all love her. She was such a witty person...Every day she'd come in," said her friend at the lodge, Steve Brosseau.

In her neighborhood on Fieldcrest Terrace, markings on the road show where Gray's Buick Regal ended up after it rolled backward out of her driveway. She was found under the car, killed.

"She was just a neighborhood person that the whole town loved and she's going to be cherished for the rest of our lives," said a neighbor Darren Falle.

She was a Cambridge teacher who taught generations. After retirement, she was known for her festive hats around Kentucky Derby time, and her sharp intellect.

Roselyn Gray
Roselyn Gray CBS Boston

Some safety experts are calling for changes to prevent accidents like Gray's. Police are still investigating whether she didn't put the car in park, or if something went wrong mechanically. 

Either way, experts say car rollaways have become a national problem. According to the Seekonk-based Safety & Research Strategies, about 150 people in the United States are killed every year and about 2,000 people are injured in vehicle rollaways.

"There are a few different problems that can occur. We've seen mechanical problems, electronic problems, and human error problems," said safety expert Sean Kane.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently studying whether car manufacturers should be required to install automatic stops. "There's the ability to automate a function, like automating the electric parking brake or the electronic shifter by automatically shifting it to park," said Kane. 

Back at the North Reading Moose Club, Roselyn's friends say they can only hope her tragedy leads to change. "Such a sweetheart," said Brosseau. "We're all going to miss her. We love you Rosi, rest in peace honey." 

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