Maura In The News

Pols seek probe as kin struggle with Pats fan's death
By Jessica Heslam
Wednesday, February 4, 2004

As the condition of one victim improved yesterday, the brother of a West Newbury man killed by an alleged drunken driver who plowed through a post-Super Bowl crowd was left to deal with the tragedy that unfolded before his eyes.

James Grabowski, 21, was struck and killed on Symphony Road shortly after leaving his younger brother David's dormitory at Northeastern University, where the two Patriots fans had been watching the game.

``David saw what happened. He was on his bed crying and crying all day long,'' their grandmother, Irene Grabowski, said yesterday.

``They had just come out of the dormitory, and a guy was backing up the wrong way and then lunged forward. They were standing right in front and Jamie got it, right across his abdomen, and that was it,'' she said. ``He was the greatest kid, the apple of our eye.''

The deadly hit-and-run tragedy occurred as booze-fueled college students and young hoodlums wreaked havoc from Kenmore Square to Allston, early Monday morning smashing cars with bats, overturning vehicles, setting fires and hurling bottles at police.

Two Boston city councilors whose districts include those areas plan today to call for a hearing to investigate whether local colleges and universities should help pay for the larger police presence needed at such events. Councilor Michael Ross said he also wants to look into whether the NFL should broadcast public service announcements asking fans to respect their cities before the Super Bowl. ``I have no idea why we're spending all this time talking about Janet Jackson's wardrobe. We should talk about the ridiculous, irresponsible activity that took place on Sunday,'' Ross said.

But Mayor Thomas M. Menino questioned the idea of forcing colleges to help foot the police bill. Boston police say they were prepared for the thousands of revelers, but were faced with a new, more destructive level of hooliganism.

``We had three times as many police officers on the streets this time than we did two years ago'' when the Pats won their first Super Bowl, said Menino. The mayor said colleges need to do a better job policing their dormitories and monitoring underage drinking.

Councilor at large Maura Hennigan plans to use today's City Council meeting to start asking questions about police preparedness. ``Given some of the stuff that went on with the Red Sox, you would have thought they'd put more people out,'' said Hennigan.

Grabowski wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, state police Capt. Daniel Grabowski, in becoming a police officer. Grabowski, the oldest of three boys, graduated from St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers, where he was a standout wrestler. He was taking classes at North Shore Community College after a two-year stint at the Coast Guard Academy. Grabowski was living with his family on their farm.

``He was the first grandson and we just all loved him completely,'' his grandmother said. ``I'm so sad for him (David). Oh, that poor kid.''

Police say 24-year-old Stanley Filoma of Mattapan killed Grabowski and injured three other young men when he rammed his SUV through a rowdy crowd celebrating the Pats victory. Two of the injured were treated for minor injuries. Jason Stackiewicz, 21, an NU criminal justice major from New York, was upgraded to serious condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Filoma, who was back at home yesterday after posting $10,000 bail, refused to talk about the deadly incident. ``They can wonder all they want. They have to wait until I go to court. I will have no comment. I just don't want to talk about it,'' Filoma said before hanging up.

( Ellen Silberman contributed to this report. )

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