2 from RI killed in Billerica auto auction crash

BILLERICA, Mass. (WPRI) — Officials on Thursday released the identities of three people who were killed after a Jeep took off and crashed into a crowd of people at an indoor auto auction in Billerica.

Brenda Lopez, 48, and Pantaleon Santos, 49, both of Rhode Island, were pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday morning, according to Billerica Police Chief Daniel Rosa and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Leezandra Aponte, 36, of Lowell, Mass., was transported to Lahey Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, officials said.

Eight other people hurt in the crash were treated at the hospital and released, while a 55-year-old man remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

Police said an employee of LynnWay Auto Auction was behind the wheel of a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the SUV suddenly accelerated and crashed through the wall of the building.

The incident remains under investigation. Police said the preliminary investigation suggests the crash was not an intentional act.