Saturday, 2:15 PM
Trolley operator dies after collision in Newton
By Noah Bierman, Ralph Ranalli, and James Vaznis, Globe Staff
A trolley car on the D branch of the Green Line in Newton smashed into another car from behind this afternoon, injuring multiple people. The operator of one of the trolleys was trapped and died, her father told the Globe this evening.
The operator was Terrese Edmonds of South Boston, said her father, Terry Jones. Edmonds, 24, had been on the job since August, he said.
"My daughter died. I'm sorry I have to go," he said in a brief telephone interview.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said one two-car trolley rear-ended the second as both headed westbound, away from Boston. Both cars were derailed by the crash.
The collision occurred at about 6 p.m. on the way into the Woodland station. The trolley that was rear-ended was just emerging from a scheduled stop-light when it was hit from behind, he said. The operator who was trapped was the one in the trolley in the rear, Pesaturo said.
Six people were taken to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, one was Medflighted to Boston Medical Center, and five were treated and released at the scene, said Pesaturo.
Frank Lam, 41, of Natick was commuting home from his computer job in the frontmost trolley.
"Basically, what happened is we were at a stop, and we just got plowed into by second train," he said.
He said a few people were thrown around at the time of the impact, but "for the most part everybody was able to walk off the train."
He said he went to the trolley behind to see if he could help and found one woman trapped but conscious, "wedged into a corner," and then went out to the front of the trolley and saw through an opening a blue shirt that appeared to belong to the train operator.
"All I saw was a T blue shirt. It looked like her back or something," he said.
Aerial pictures of the scene shown by local TV stations showed smashed trolley cars, rescue vehicles clustering at the scene, and injured people being placed on stretchers.
The footage also showed rescue workers gathering around the front of one smashed car.
Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the federal agency is sending 10 investigators to probe the crash. They are expected to produce a final report in 12 to 18 months.
“Any time there’s an accident of this nature and this seriousness, where the commuter trains have actually collided with each other, that’s a very substantial safety issue and we need to understand how that happened," Knudson said in a telephone interview.
Matt Stone, 46, an accounting manager from Framingham, was also sitting in the frontmost trolley, on his way to pick up his car at the Riverside station at the tail end of the same commute he has made for the past 3 years.
“We were stopped and all of a sudden we got hit from behind and there was no warning, nothing,” Stone said. “There was two separate impacts: the first knocked me off my seat, the next knocked me across the aisle.”
Stone was lightly bruised. Most of the 20 to 25 people on his train were not seriously injured, but a few appeared to be badly hurt, he said.
“One woman hit her face on the seat and had blood from a cut on her nose,” Stone said. “There was a 70-year-old old guy who went ballistic screaming at the conductor, ‘You killed my wife! You killed my wife!’ And the wife is going, ‘I’m OK! I’m OK.’”
After the crash, “Somebody started saying, ‘The train behind is on fire, and we got to get outta here,’” Stone said. The passengers got off, briefly got on another train that was facing the opposite direction, then got off that train because it was stuck behind the crash, and walked along the tracks to the Riverside Station.
Jack Condon, 74, a Dorset Road resident, said, "I was going for a walk and I heard a crash and I said 'Uh-oh, this is a bad one' and then I heard what I thought were a couple of explosions, or at least they sounded like they were explosions."
He said he thought it might be a car accident on the nearby highway and then he saw "all the ambulances, and that's when I knew it was a train."
Steve Cadrain, a neighborhood resident, said he ran down to the accident site, jumping a fence and boarded one of the damaged trolleys.
"I went on the train, there was virtually no blood. There was one woman who was bleeding."
He said he saw a female conductor walking off the trolley, "looking for a friend." He said he thought she might have been looking for the operator who was trapped in the front part of the trolley.
Joyce Friedman, also a neighborhood resident, said neighbors offered to open up their houses to victims, but none of them took advantage of the offer.
"It was a huge, huge crash. It sounded like an explosion," she said. "I thought it was an enormous truck crash on Beacon Street. We never think of the Green Line running behind our houses."
"It was like an accordion, the two front ends squished together," she said.
The line has been shut down in the area, and shuttle bus service is running between Reservoir and Riverside, the MBTA announced on its website.
Michael Levenson and Rachana Rathi of the Globe staff contributed to this report, along with Globe correspondents John M. Guilfoil, Jill Jorgensen, and Matt Collette.