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T worker killed by Orange Line train

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T officials at the Wellington Station accident scene last night. Globe Staff Photo / Essdras M Suarez

T worker killed by Orange Line train

2 others injured at Wellington

By Glen Johnson and Kaitlin Thaney, Globe Staff, Globe Correspondent | January 28, 2005

MEDFORD -- An MBTA worker was killed, and two others were injured last night when they were struck by an Orange Line train as they worked along tracks to fix a frozen signal near Wellington Station.

The accident about 7 p.m. startled many of the roughly 50 passengers on the inbound train, some of whom looked out to see two employees lying on the ground and other T workers running to their aid.

"It's sad," said Jamie Cholette of Malden, a passenger on the train that hit the workers. "I don't know how that could happen. I don't know how the train missed them or they missed the train."

The driver of the train, which was arriving at the station at 7 p.m. from Malden Station, told T police in his first statement that a northbound train had just passed by, kicking up a plume of snow as it pulled out of the station, according to Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

Trains in the area can travel 30 to 40 miles per hour. Pesaturo speculated that the plume of snow could have obscured the motorman's vision, preventing him from seeing the workers. The driver will undergo standard drug and alcohol tests, Pesaturo said.

All three victims, whose names were not released last night, were dressed as required in safety vests or coats with reflective markings, Pesaturo said, and transit police recovered a walkie-talkie they also were required to carry. Police searched a snowdrift last night for a flashlight, the final piece of mandatory safety equipment.

The accident created a major disruption for hundreds of evening commuters, who had to be bused in both directions between North Station and Wellington throughout the night. Normal service was expected this morning.

The worker who was killed was identified only as a 46-year-old man, a 14-year veteran of the T. He was pronounced dead at the scene. A second employee suffered multiple injuries to the head, arm, and leg and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was reported in serious condition. The third employee suffered relatively minor shoulder injuries. He told investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that he was not sure if he was hit by the train or hurt diving out of the way, Pesaturo said.

The three men, electricians known as signal workers, were along the tracks to fix a signal north of the station that had become packed with snow and ice. Such signals serve trains entering and departing the station, as well as a major Orange Line repair facility there.

"We have crews doing this on all four [transit] lines since the blizzard," Pesaturo said, referring to last weekend's major winter storm that dumped more than two feet of snow on eastern Massachusetts.

Only an hour before the train hit the workers, WHDH-TV (Channel 7) broadcast a report about Orange Line delays yesterday caused by repeated signal problems.

The T has struggled to recover from recent storms and has fielded complaints this week about snow-packed platforms on the Green Line and delays on the Red and Blue lines. Yesterday afternoon, transit officials dispatched snow-removal crews after the Globe relayed complaints about Silver Line buses running the wrong way down a one-way street because snow was blocking a bus lane on Washington Street.

Passengers on the Orange Line train involved in last night's fatality said their first inkling of trouble was when a bell rang and the train stopped, with someone announcing over the intercom that there was a medical emergency. The motorman reported the accident to the T's Operations Control Center in Boston at 7:01 p.m., Pesaturo said.

Another passenger, Vicki Rowe of Everett, said T employees told her that the workers were walking on the tracks, did not see the train, fell, and were dragged.

After the accident, T officials set up the shuttle bus service. Passengers said they were stranded for 45 minutes or more after subway service was halted.

From The Boston Globe

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