ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Everything appeared to be business as usual Monday at Triple Play Car Wash in Attleboro, but its employees are mourning the death of their beloved boss.
Terrance Elder, 55, of Stoughton, was identified by police Monday as the driver who was killed Friday in a single-car crash on South Avenue (Route 123).
Police said Elder’s vehicle left the roadway and hit a tree before it caught fire.
Elder was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, a man in his mid-30s, was rescued from the vehicle by good Samaritans and taken to the hospital with serious trauma injuries, according to police.
Elder co-owned the car wash on Route 1 with Dave Ellard, who remembered him as someone larger than life.
“He was a well-known guy. He was primarily a people person, a caring person,” Ellard said. “If somebody was in need, he was the first one there.”
Elder had just closed up shop before the crash happened. Ellard said his partner was a car enthusiast, so he couldn’t believe he died the way he did.
“He went for a ride in his pride and joy, which is a 1987 Buick Grand National that he bought brand new,” Ellard said. “It was a trailer queen, it was something he polished and cleaned and looked at all the time, and his hobby was car shows the last few summers with it. So, it’s just a tragic loss, a tragic way to lose Terrance.”
The crash remains under investigation, but officials said speed appeared to have been a factor, which surprised Ellard.
“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I had to double- and triple-check what I was hearing, because it was unlike Terrance to be in a situation like that,” Ellard said. “He was a careful guy, polite guy, we don’t understand how this happened because it just doesn’t fit his personality.”
The pair celebrated 15 years in business together this year. After taking the weekend to mourn, their employees were back at work on Monday.
“They came to me yesterday and said, ‘Look, let’s be fully open Monday because we think Terrance would have wanted it that way,'” Ellard said. “They’re taking his work ethic and what they learned from him and saying, ‘We’ve got to keep the business going strong.'”
“The employees didn’t look at him like the boss. They looked at him like a brother or a dad,” he added. “Customers looked at him as a friend and a car guy. Even though he was the owner of a business and the operator of a business, everybody just thought they were his friend, and that’s, I think, the magic in Terrance.”