City tears down wall that family says played part in 26-year-old Woonsocket man’s death

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – It’s been nearly seven months since 26-year-old Johnathan Blain was killed in a motorcycle crash on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket. On Wednesday, his family got some closure as the wall they believed was a factor in the crash came down.

“It’ll be seven months tomorrow, and it’s been a rough seven months.”

Jennifer Blain watched on as city crews demolished the walls that stood at the intersection of Walnut Hill Road and Diamond Hill Road, the spot where her son, Johnathan, was killed last June.

Blain, a graduate of Woonsocket Area Career and Technical Center, was working towards getting his electrician license. Just weeks after getting his new motorcycle, he was traveling down Diamond Hill Road when a 72-year-old woman behind the wheel of an SUV pulled out of Walnut Hill Road, striking Blain’s motorcycle. He was killed, and his passenger was injured.

“Nothing’s ever gonna bring Johnathan back to us. But he was the type of person that helped everybody that he knew, or people that he didn’t know,” said Jennifer.

While the driver was cited for failing to yield, Jennifer believes the brick wall was to blame.

“The wall was a 4-foot high wall, and in order to see oncoming traffic, literally you had to pull past the stop line, through the crosswalk, and almost into the lane of travel. So I believe that that wall did obstruct the view of anybody trying to exit Walnut Hill.”

Blain’s friend, Josh Lussier, started a petition soon after the crash, asking the city to remove the wall and make the intersection safer.

There was a lot of back-and-forth between the family and the city, until last month when things started moving along.

“I think what got it moving and moving so quickly was at the December city council meeting, the councilman Jim Cournoyer, brought up the issue again,” Jennifer explained, “and it seems from that point on, it just has been rolling pretty quickly, and here we are today.”

Blain isn’t the first person to be killed at that intersection. Three others died in a crash at the same spot back in the early 80s. Now that the wall is gone, Jennifer hopes her son’s death will be the last tragedy there.

“Today he’s watching over us, watching all of this take place knowing that this will be a huge factor in preventing any other accidents, small or tragic like the one he was involved in, from happening again.”

The Blain family also wants that section of Diamond Hill Road reduced from four lanes to two lanes, to slow people down and make it easier for drivers to pull out onto the busy stretch. Jennifer said the city council will be taking up the matter soon.

Later this year, Blain’s family and friends are planning a second-annual motorcycle ride in honor of Blain, and to benefit a scholarship that’s in his name.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: News, Rhode Island, Woonsocket