Rollins opens investigation into T over Green Line crash

This Green Line car is significantly damaged after striking another trolley along Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (Courtesy NTSB)
This Green Line car is significantly damaged after striking another trolley along Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. (Courtesy NTSB)

Outgoing Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced a criminal investigation into the T over a trolley crash that injured more than two dozen people last July. The investigation is one of Rollins’ last acts before she moves on to a new position as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts.

“There is perhaps no single state agency that impacts the daily lives of the millions of people who live and work in the greater Boston area more than the T,” said Rollins, who is expected to be sworn in to her new role Monday. “Therefore, it is imperative that if we see a continued lack of oversight or negligence at the MBTA that it is exposed and corrected.’’

The crash injured more than two dozen people, including driver Owen Turner, who reportedly operated the vehicle at three times the speed limit and was later charged with two counts of gross negligence. It was later revealed that Turner had been disciplined multiple times for speeding in the past.

“The MBTA had a duty to address its employee’s reckless behavior,” said Rollins. “The agency failed to fulfill its legal obligation to take meaningful action in light of the real safety risk these acts created. We will be looking into whether the T’s behavior, or lack thereof, merits criminal action.”

Rollins also called out a series of incidents that occurred during "a terrifying two-month period" after the crash. On Sept. 11, Boston University professor David Jones fell to his death through rusted-out steps at JFK station. Just over two weeks after that, an escalator malfunction resulted in nine injuries, and two days after that, a Red Line train derailed at Broadway Station.

"This list of failures and tragedies appropriately makes the T-riding public and all of us question the value the MBTA is placing on safety,” Rollins said. “When their acts and omissions put the safety of community members and their own employees at risk, sometimes the only means of driving change is through the courts, and public demands for action.”

The T's "top priority has always been "the safety of its customers and employees," said T spokesperson Joe Pesaturo, who added the agency plans  to continue "cooperating with the district attorney's office."

"The MBTA will continue to emphasize safety in its employee training programs, and the T will hold any employees accountable for actions that adversely impact service or customer safety,"Pesaturo said.

This article was originally published on January 06, 2022.


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Darryl C. Murphy Host
Darryl C. Murphy is the host of WBUR's daily news and culture podcast, "The Common."



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