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Green Line Trolley Operator Admits To Texting At Time Of Crash; 49 Hurt

This article is more than 10 years old.
Emergency personnel work outside the Government Center MBTA station in Boston on Friday. One trolley was stopped between Park and Government Center stations at a red signal when it was hit by the second trolley. (AP Photo)
Emergency personnel work outside the Government Center MBTA station in Boston on Friday. One trolley was stopped between Park and Government Center stations at a red signal when it was hit by the second trolley. (AP Photo)

A Green Line trolley rear-ended another trolley that was stopped between two underground stations in downtown Boston on Friday night, injuring 49 people, four of them seriously. The operator of the moving train told police he was texting at the time of the crash, officials said.

"I can tell you it's difficult to contain my outrage at hearing this," said Dan Grabauskas, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. "We let our employees know that there is a zero-tolerance policy for the use of any kind of electronic device."

Grabauskas said the 24-year-old operator of the trolley that struck the parked trolley admitted to investigators in a hospital that he saw the red light ahead of him as he was texting, but that it was too late to stop.

The most seriously injured person was the operator of the moving trolley. He walked out and was taken to the hospital in stable condition, Grabauskas said. Authorities say none of the injuries appear life threatening.

Officials would not release the operator's name, but an MBTA spokesman said he had been on the job for less than two years.

The MBTA has stepped up enforcement of the rule against cell phone use by operators following a trolley crash in Newton last May that killed the driver of a trolley that collided with another. Although there were reports the driver was using a cell phone just before the crash, an investigation ultimately determined there was no evidence she was using her phone.

Grabauskas says the collision Friday occurred 7:18 p.m. One trolley was stopped between Park and Government Center stations at a red signal when it was hit by the second trolley.

Most people suffered cuts or skeletal injuries, said John Gill, deputy superintendent of Boston EMS. Two people had chest pains.

Some passengers had to be extracted from the trains, said deputy fire chief Richard DiBenedetto. Others were taken from the station on stretchers or backboards.

A formal investigation of the cause of the crash is underway. Portions of the Green Line were closed on Saturday as part of the investigation led by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on May 8, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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