Man accused of killing 13-year-old in drunk-driving crash after company holiday party

The driver admitted at the scene of the crash that he had "drank way too much" and used cocaine at a holiday party thrown by his boss, prosecutors said.
Gregory Goodsell stands in a court hearing in Plymouth, Mass. on Jan. 3, 2020.
Gregory Goodsell stands in a court hearing in Plymouth, Mass. on Jan. 3, 2020.WBTS

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

A Massachusetts man accused of killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring two other people after he left a holiday party intoxicated and slammed his work truck into a car will continue to be held without bail, a judge ruled Friday.

Gregory Goodsell, 31, has pleaded not guilty to one count of manslaughter while operating under the influence, two counts of operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury, and other charges related to the crash at about 6:50 a.m. Sunday in Pembroke, about 30 miles south of Boston.

A judge in Plymouth District Court ruled Friday that Goodsell was a danger to the public and should continue to be held without bail. Prosecutors said in court that Goodsell's driving record includes more than 35 incidents and violations.

He is next due in court on Feb. 10.

Prosecutors said during Goodsell's arraignment Monday that he had acknowledged at the scene of the crash that he had "drank way too much" and used cocaine prior to the crash at a holiday party thrown by his boss, according to NBC Boston. A statement from Goodsell's employer released Friday said he had been fired.

The scene of the the crash in Pembroke, Mass. at about 6:50 a.m. on Dec. 29, 2019.WBTS

Police found a bottle of whiskey and a beer can in the white Ford pickup truck Goodsell was driving, according to a statement from the Pembroke Police Department. He was arrested at the scene.

Elizabeth Zisseron, 50, her daughter, Claire Zisseron, 13, and another 13-year-old girl, who were in the Subaru that Goodsell hit, had to be extricated from the car and were brought to a nearby hospital, police said. Claire died of her injuries there.

Goodsell was driving a truck he used for his job with Hi-Way Safety Systems Inc., a construction company in Rockland, Massachusetts, according to The Associated Press. The company, which handles pavement markings, highway signage, traffic control and sweeping services, is a contractor on some Massachusetts Department of Transportation projects.

Hi-Way Safety Systems said in a statement that Goodsell was fired due to the crash, repeated company violations and for using a company vehicle during nonwork hours. The company said it is cooperating with the investigation into the crash.

The statement also said that Goodsell had "avoided" coworkers who demanded he hand over his keys on the morning of the fatal crash.

"This has been a terrible tragedy and a nightmare for all involved," the company statement said. "The shock and sadness the families of these victims are experiencing is unimaginable. It is impossible to adequately express the sorrow felt for their tragic loss."

Another Hi-Way Safety employee was found dead in a hotel room following the holiday party, according to NBC Boston. The cause of death is under investigation. The company's statement did not address that death.

In a statement obtained by NBC Boston, the state transportation department said it was reviewing its contracts with Hi-Way Safety Systems following the crash.

"MassDOT is extremely disappointed to learn of the circumstances surrounding this incident. We require that all of our contractors adhere to strict standards of safety and we are conducting a review into the status of Hi-Way Safety Systems Inc." with regard to active contracts, the statement said. "We are saddened by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim."

Claire Zisseron, a student at Rising Tide School in Plymouth, played soccer, basketball and tennis and ran cross-country, according to an online obituary. "Claire was a bright, kind and caring girl with a beautiful heart. She loved her family, her friends and her teammates. She was a ray of sunshine to everyone around her," the obituary said.

An online fundraiser set up by a friend of Zisseron's brother had raised nearly $80,000 by Friday afternoon. Her wake was set for later Friday.