Aiden Quinn, the former MBTA operator who said he was texting his girlfriend before his Green Line car smashed into another car in 2009, pleaded guilty today to a charge of negligence by a person in control of a train.
Quinn was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service after entering his plea today in Suffolk Superior Court before Judge Carol Ball.
The May 8, 2009 crash in a tunnel near the Government Center station injured dozens and caused millions of dollars in damage.
"I am deeply sorry that the result of my carelessness has caused so much pain and expense for others," Quinn said in a letter he wrote this fall to the judge. The letter was read aloud in court today by his lawyer, James Sultan.
"I am a very peaceful person who would never intentionally cause harm to any person or any other living thing," Quinn, 26, said in the letter. "I pray that one day I will be able to make amends in some way to the affected persons." Quinn had no comment for reporters as he left the courthouse.
Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Paul Treseler argued unsucessfully that Quinn should be sentenced to six months in jail, saying the crash had injured 65 people and caused approximately $10 million in damage.
"He passed a green light, and then he passed a yellow light, and then he passed a red light and a second red light. Eventually, he hit his brakes and collided with a second MBTA train," Treseler said.
"The walkway of Government Center was turned into a triage unit. We had people suffering from bumps and bruises to broken pelvises, mental anxiety, and basically the whole gamut in-between," he said.
Quinn became a symbol of the hazards of using cellphones and messaging devices while operating a vehicle. After the crash, the T implemented the strictest cellphone ban in the country, barring its drivers from carrying any kind of electronic device on a train or bus. Twenty-two T employees have since been fired or suspended under the regulation, the T said today.
The crash also fed into growing concern about texting while driving cars. The Legislature earlier this year passed a law outlawing texting while driving in the state.
Investigators found that Quinn was typing on his cellphone, without looking at the track, while his trolley cruised almost 600 feet through a tunnel, at about 25 miles per hour, running a yellow and a red light. By the time he glanced up and pulled the emergency brake, Green Line Car 3612 was just 8 feet from the rear of another trolley stopped on the tracks, the investigation found.
Among the passengers with significant crash injuries was a 28-year-old Lynn woman who broke her pelvis and may not walk again. A 19-year-old Salem woman suffered a concussion and broken vertebrae.
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