As snow continued to fall during the blizzard that pummeled New England Jan. 26 through Jan. 27, a 61-year-old Massachusetts woman was arrested for allegedly attacking her neighbor with a snowblower. The victim was also a 60-something woman who called police around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday due to lacerations on her foot.
The accused, who has now been identified as Barbara Davis, was arrested on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, mayhem, and violating a restraining order. She was expected to be arraigned Jan. 29, as courts in Suffolk County remained closed due to extreme weather.
Police said the women involved had been engaged in an ongoing feud. The pair are from Arlington, an upscale suburb of Boston.
Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan condemned the alleged attack. “Emotions may run high during a historic weather event like the blizzard we just endured, but that is no excuse for violence,” he said in a statement. “We are supposed to come together as a community during events like this, and I am very disappointed with these allegations.”
Snowblower injuries rarely have such a dramatic backstory, but recent data show that snowblower accidents are not uncommon.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 5,700 people hurt themselves with snowblowers each year, with frequent injuries including amputations, burns, lacerations, and aches and pains.
While one might assume that the people operating snowblowers would have a bit more common sense, some of those injuries — such as finger losses — occur because users stick their hands into still-running snowblowers.
After reviewing the data for a Jan. 27 article, the Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham dryly noted that “Overwhelmingly, men reach into their snowblowers to unclog or fiddle with something without first, you know, turning the machine off.” (His use of “men” is intentional: only 3.7% of the snowblower-related amputations in the last decade have involved women, though that may be due to the fact that men are more likely to use snowblowers in the first place and not only because, as Ingraham writes, “women are typically more sensible about these things than men.”)
Going low-tech doesn’t necessarily protect people while they’re clearing snow, however. In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, there were about four times as many injuries involving snow shovels than there were involving snowblowers.