Penney Richards
September, 2009

Lawrence Eagle-Tribune story from Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mother still waiting for accident report after fatal crash in Reading

By Brian Messenger

READING It's been four months since a motorcycle accident claimed the life of Penney Jean "PJ" Richards and still the family has no answers as to what happened that day.

"I really don't understand why it's taking so long," said Penny Morang Richards, mother of Penney Jean and former Eagle-Tribune columnist and reporter. "I'd really like someone to explain that to me."

On Nov. 19, 2009, Richards, 25, of North Reading was the passenger on a motorcycle driven by her friend Michael A. D'Amore, 32, of Reading. Both were killed when the motorcycle collided with a Chevrolet pickup truck driven by Robert Kwmuntis, 52, of Derry, N.H., on Route 129 about 10 a.m. Kwmuntis was uninjured.

Reading police Detective Derek Holmes said the motorcycle was traveling west when it hit the side of the pickup truck. He said there was minimal traffic at the time and that weather did not contribute to the accident.

"I want to know who is responsible for the death of my daughter, whether that is the driver of the pickup truck or the driver of the motorcycle. That's what I want to know. Once I know that information, I can process that and start dealing with it," Richards said.

Richards acknowledged the possibility that the fatal crash was "just an unlucky twist of fate" and that no one is at fault.

"If that's the determination, that's what I live with," said Richards. "I just need to know."

State police Lt. David Wilson said yesterday he expects an accident reconstruction report on the crash will be sent to the Middlesex district attorney's office by the end of the week. He said the report has been written and is now being reviewed.

"It's a complex criminal investigation," said Wilson. "It takes a lot of scientific evidence you get from the roadway and scientific principles we use to reconstruct the crash. So four months is not unusual."

Wilson said it will be up to the district attorney to determine if charges will be filed.

Richards said she has been contacted by dozens of people who were touched by her daughter. She said a memorial service for Penney is planned this spring at Massachusetts General Hospital, where her daughter worked for a short time before the accident.

"I am so lucky I got to be her mother," said Richards. "I try not to think of it in terms of milestones. There are plenty more milestones that are going to come up."

She had planned to exchange charm bracelets with her daughter on Christmas. On Saturday, she bought one in her daughter's memory.

"It will be my PJ bracelet, a bracelet my girl didn't get to give to me, but I will wear it in her honor," said Richards. "I had Christmas in March this weekend."


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