When Emerson student Emily Frachtling stepped onto an outbound Green Line trolley Thursday morning, she never guessed a frightening crash would send 35 of her fellow riders to the hospital.
“It didn’t slow down. It didn’t slow down,” Frachtling said at the scene, still shaken.
An outbound trolley rear-ended another trolley that was parked at the Boylston Street station just before noon, according to transit and fire officials.
The impact sent passengers in both trolleys flying, causing head, neck and back injuries, officials said. Injured passengers were strapped to stretchers inside an area partitioned off by police tape outside the station, and dozens more were sprawled on the grass, getting on-site evaluations and treatment.
Both trolley drivers were also sent to hospital with injuries.
When asked if the collision was worse than when the T abruptly stops, Frachtling said, “Oh my God, yeah. We were going pretty fast, so I thought, ‘Here we go, we’re going to break really hard,'” she said. “It was going pretty fast too, so that’s why everyone was thrown forward… it wasn’t like a brake.”
MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the crash was still under investigation Thursday evening, “but we have ruled out any issues with the track or signal system. Investigators look at everything from the trolley equipment to the actions of the operator.”
The driver of the second train did not have a cell phone with him, so texting and driving has been ruled out, but driver error has not been ruled out.
While Frachtling was not seriously hurt, she said she saw others who were.
“I noticed there was a woman who had fallen in the first car, and she was pretty injured, and they were attending to that,” she said, adding that some were panicking, and others appeared to be in shock.
Despite Thursday’s crash, Frachtling said she is not afraid to ride the T again: “It was such a random thing, and I wasn’t too hurt or anything, so I really don’t think I’d be afraid to ride the T but I don’t know what happened. I hope the driver gets their s– together.”
Janette Silva was uneasy as she stood behind yellow police tape at the scene. Her husband was on one of the trollies, and called to tell her he was hurt. Once she arrived, however, she could not locate him, and had no update on his injuries, or how this could have happened to her husband.
“He is in a lot of pain,” she said with the help of translation from her sister-in-law, Ondiva Neves. “We still don’t know what’s going on.”
BELOW: Watch a video of injured T riders being taken away by Transit Officials.
The Green Line: A troubled past
- May 2008: Two westbound trolleys collided on the “D” Branch between Woodland and Waban stations, killing T operator Terrese Edmonds. Fourteen passengers were hurt.
- May 2009: Trolley operator, Aiden Quinn sent a text message to his girlfriend right before crashing into another trolley at Government Center, injuring 40 people.
- Oct. 8 2012: Two Green Line trains collided near Brigham Circle after a switch that should have been shut was left open.
- Nov. 25, 2012: A Green Line trolley collided with a paratransit vehicle at 9 a.m. on Huntington Avenue. No word on the cause.
Concerned witnesses at the scene of the accident in Boston Common react to the crash:
“It definitely makes me nervous. I take the train all the time; I could have been on that one. It definitely doesn’t surprise me that it’s the Green Line.” – Isaac Moore, Emerson Student at the scene.
“I don’t really feel safe after seeing this.” Jennifer Leon, frequent T rider who watched the aftermath of Thursday’s crash.
“It makes me scared. Anytime the train halts, and you hear that screech, its scary. I can’t imagine being on it during an accident.” – Revere resident Orysell Rivera, who came close to getting on the ill-fated trolley, but missed it because she was running late.