Mea Cupla-The Wellesley Police Do In Fact Get It

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 16

I reported earlier this week that the Ghost Bike in Wellesley had been removed.

I was very upset that it had been reported that “items can’t be stored on public property” referring to the ghost bike. It seems however that the bike was removed at the request of the wife. Which I can understand, perhaps this woman didn’t want a daily reminder of her husbands death. And thanks to follow up correspondence it has also come to light that they are still pursuing the person who struck and killed the man. In fact they intend to place the case before a grand jury.

My apologies to the Wellesley police department, thanks for continuing to work on this case. However in the future a bit of PR goes a long way, a simple “the bike was removed at the request of the family” would have been sufficient. Cyclists often feel like its “us against the world” because so often it is. I have fallen guilty to seeing a slight where none exists. Please accept my public apologies.

Full email chain below. Thanks Matthew for this digging, your civil tone is a good example to us all.


Dear Chief Cunningham,

I am writing to express my concern about the removal of the ghost bike at the site of Alex Motsenigos’ death. The bike was a fitting memorial to a man who was cut down in the prime of his life while riding his bike on our public roadways. While the WPD may have the luxury of viewing ghost bikes as mere “items” that are unlawfully “stored” on public property, the ghost bike was, in reality, doing more to promote the safe sharing of public roadways than the pathetic “investigation” that that the WPD is conducting into the cause of Alex’s death. I suggest that when the ghost bike is replaced by another one like it that the WPD reconsider its ill-informed decision to remove it. I am a a cyclist who regularly commutes in the town of Wellesley where I work. If the goal of the WPD is to protect and to serve, please understand that I will feel more safe and better served knowing that the WPD’s officers are out patrolling our streets and bringing closure to those affected by Alex’s death, instead of removing unsightly “items” that serve as reminders of the Department’s shortcomings.

Thank you,

Mr. Clarke, thank you for your interest in this matter. Let me begin with a couple of questions for you, first what is your training in conducting pedestrian/bicycle accidents, second, have you been in contact with the victims family? I assume that you have not been in contact with the victims family nor should you, however, we have been in constant contact with the family, who by the way have complete confidence in our investigation, neither the victims wife or brother wanted to drive by the location of this accident and have to look at this so called memorial. Additionally, the wife did not want to subject her six year old son to the constant reminder by having to look at an old bicycle painted white, chained to a utility pole. They instead wanted to focus their energy in a much more positive manner by organizing a bicycle ride to remember the victim. So rather than acting in such a selfish, uninformed manner, and sending a missive with gratuitous comments perhaps you could take the time to be better informed. Had you sent me an email asking why we removed the bicycle I would have been happy to respond to you. Further if you asked where the investigation stood, again, I would have been happy to let you know that the investigation is currently open, active and ongoing and that we expect to put the case before a grand jury!

Best Regards Chief Cunningham

Thank you for your timely response, Chief Cunningham. I do apologize for letting my emotions get the better of me. I should have asked instead of assuming an accusatory tone. It is very encouraging to hear that you expect to put the case before a grand jury.

I can’t speak for every member of the cycling community, but it has been a very difficult four months for cyclists in the Boston area. Since Alex’s death in Wellesley, we’ve seen an additional four cyclists killed by cars and trucks, all within the span of nine weeks. I have been following the case as closely as I can, through traditional and online news outlets, which have reported that the case is, as you’ve said, open, active and ongoing. The news about an expected grand jury hearing is, however, news to me.

Thank you for taking the time to to respond about my question about why the ghost bike was removed, and for updating me on the status of the investigation. My apologies, again, for the accusatory tone of my email.


Matthew, your apology is accepted i apologize if i sounded defensive but this accident is very close to home for me. I live on weston road right around the corner from both the accident and alex the victim. Please continue to follow the case as it moves forward the details will shock you when they become public. Please let others in your cycling community know as well.
Take care

Chief Cunningham

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Posted in advocacy, news | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Mea Cupla-The Wellesley Police Do In Fact Get It”

  1. By jay on Nov 16, 2012 | Reply

    But still no arrests, right? They have yet to get this right. Youa no culpa.

  2. By Matt Finnigan on Nov 16, 2012 | Reply

    Jay, that’s what a grand jury should lead to : an arrest warrant. That is indeed, to my mind, “getting it right.”

  3. By mm on Nov 16, 2012 | Reply

    smackdown by Chief Cunningham. ouchy.

  4. By Cycler on Nov 17, 2012 | Reply

    Usually an arrest is prior to a grand jury. The prosecution presents the case and the range of charges, and the grand jury approves the charges.

    I’m still not convinced that they’re actually moving forward, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  5. By David on Nov 18, 2012 | Reply

    Who knows what will happen? I doubt very much that Wellesley is somehow trying to let the driver off the hook. But the automatic response people have when one of “their own” is killed or injured seems to be “lynch the bastard.” Whether the victim is a family member, fellow cyclist, co-religionist, or whatever, the patience to find out just what happened – and see what action is justified – seems to go right out the window.

  6. By Sean on Nov 19, 2012 | Reply

    I look forward to the publication of the WPD report and case. In the mean time I agree that we should not let our emotions get the better of us, and that WPD should periodically let the community know that this case has not been dropped or forgotten, to reassure the cycling community that a person’s death in suspicious circumstances does not have less importance if they happen to be astride a bike when it occurs.

  7. By Sean on Nov 19, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks also to Boston Biker for keeping us updated on this case.

  8. By kong0013XUE on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

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  9. By Lee on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Channel 5 reports:
    Charges expected in Wellesley bicyclist’s hit-and-run death
    Alex Mostenigos struck, killed on Weston Road in August

  10. By Lee on Nov 21, 2012 | Reply

    Oh, and here’s an earlier report from SWellesley, shortly after your exchange with the Chief:

    Wellesley Police expect fatal cyclist accident case to go to grand jury soon

  11. By Lee on Feb 4, 2013 | Reply

    Wellesley Patch reports that *no* charges will be filed in the hit-and-run killing of Alex Motsenigos:

  12. By Lee on Feb 4, 2013 | Reply

    Correction, no indictment on the charges that were filed.

  13. By Lee on Feb 4, 2013 | Reply

    While the state/county won’t prosecute a criminal indictment against the driver, the family has filed a wrongful death suit against the driver and the trucking company:


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  2. Feb 4, 2013: Boston Biker » Blog Archive » No Indictment For Dana McCoomb, The Truck Driver Who Killed Cyclist Alex Motsenigos Last Year

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