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A Massachusetts nurse, who pulled over on the side of a highway to assist the passenger of a rolled over vehicle, was killed by an alleged drunk driver, who state police said later fled the scene.
Jennifer Toscano was fatally struck after she attempted to provide emergency aid to a man who crashed his vehicle on Interstate 95 near Pawtucket shortly before 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, according to Rhode Island State Police.
After exiting her vehicle, Toscano was hit and killed by a red vehicle, which then allegedly fled the scene, investigators said. The 34-year-old nurse had been traveling home from a Halloween party, NBC affiliate WJAR reported.
The driver, Luis Baez, 22, was apprehended nearby and arrested a short time later. He’s been charged with driving under the influence of liquor and or drugs, resulting in death; driving so as to endanger, resulting in death; leaving the scene of an accident, resulting in death; and driving while suspended.
“Last night's tragic death of a Good Samaritan — truly the first responder at the scene of a crash — is a horrifying reminder that we have a shared responsibility to make our roads safe," Col. James M. Manni, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, said in a statement.
Toscana's friends also said her final actions summed up her character.
“If someone needed help, Jen was always there to help them,” her friend Ashley Zeolla told WJAR. “She was my best friend. She was always there for everyone. If you needed her, she was there for you.”
Zeolla said the 34-year-old nurse will be remembered for her bravery.
“That’s just who she was,” Zeolla added. “Definitely, I would say her nurse instincts kicked in that night — last night — and she had to go and save someone.”
Toscano leaves behind a teenage son, whose father also coincidentally died just a few months ago, CBS affiliate WBZ-TV reported.
“Losing a parent is one thing but losing two in a four-month period is absolutely unfathomable for a 14-year-old to have to ever — any child to go through,” David Thacker, a family friend, told the Boston television station.
The fatal wreck was one of three deadly crashes on state highways on Halloween night, authorities said.
"This was a terrible morning on our highways and one I hope to never see again," Manni added. "Alcohol, excessive speed and reckless driving appear to be factors in these incidents and as a result, three families have lost loved ones.”
Baez, who is from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, was arraigned in Providence District Court on Nov. 2. He’s being held on a $45,000 bond, according to WBZ-TV.
Investigators are urging anyone who may have witnessed the alleged hit-and-run or to contact State Police Hope Valley at 401-444-1068.
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