Two women and one man died several others were injured Wednesday when a Jeep struck several people at an auto auction in Billerica.
The crash happened just after 10 a.m. at the Lynnway Auto Auction on Charter Way, about 90 minutes after an auction was scheduled to begin.
A 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by a man in his 70s, was in one of the facility’s eight lanes when it suddenly accelerated and struck the victims. Two women and one man were killed.
The driver of the Jeep was alert and talking to police, officials said.
Lahey Hospital and Medical Center said it was treating six people injured in the crash, and at least one person was undergoing surgery. Lowell General Hospital said it had three patients.
Two victims suffered life-threatening injuries, and eight others suffered serious injuries, District Attorney Marian Ryan said.
Woody Tuttle, an auto auction employee, said the driver of the Jeep was trying to avoid hitting other vehicles when it struck several people who were standing between the lanes.
“I heard a screeching of tires, and, I believe, a Jeep Cherokee went flying by me. In avoiding the cars, whoever was driving this vehicle, hit several people,” Tuttle said.
The Jeep then crashed through the side of the building.
“(The driver) avoided the cars and went on to hit the people who were standing between the cars,” Tuttle said. “Three (men) were on the ground being tended to. There was a woman who was crying, but she was standing up, and I saw two men on the ground who appeared to be dead.”
Randy Miller, who was attending the auction said it appeared the vehicle was traveling about 40 mph.
“We heard a bang or an explosion. It was almost like a bomb. The whole place just went silent,” Miller said. “There were people just lying on the ground — a horrific, crazy, tragic situation.”
Massachusetts State Police said there were “multiple victims,” and more than 12 ambulances were called to the scene.
“At this point, there is no evidence or information to suggest the incident was caused by an intentional or terrorist act. All evidence and information at this time suggests an accidental cause,” State Police said.
The building was evacuated.
“We are very saddened by today’s events at the auction. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected,” Lynnway Auto Auction posted on its Facebook page.