An Orange Line train operator received a commendation today for acting quickly to stop her train when a man toppled from a North Station platform onto the tracks.
Patty Corrado, 29, of Everett, a 10-year employee of the T, was recognized by MBTA General Manager Richard Davey in a ceremony at the station.
"Obviously, her actions yesterday averted what could have been a tragedy. She did see the customers on the platform flagging her down furiously and she was able to bring her train to an emergency stop," Davey said in a telephone interview. "She was very attentive to what was going on and reacted exactly as we would have hoped."
Corrado said, "The passengers in the middle of the platform were, like, saying, 'Stop, stop!' I just immediately threw the train into emergency stop. The train stopped and I saw the [customers] were pulling the guy out of the pit."
She said the train stopped about 30 feet short of where the passenger was being pulled out.
"It felt good" to get the recognition, she said, but "I hope that it never happens again."
MBTA surveillance video released Wednesday evening showed the man walking at 3:21 p.m. ever closer to the yellow warning strip and then falling in. Bystanders helped him out of the pit as the lights of the oncoming train grew brighter.
The man made no contact with the third rail, officials said. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital where he was treated for cuts to his face and released, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.
Pesaturo said that three to four people in the past year have fallen in the system's train pits and disrupted service. There are other cases in which people fall in, but they're not recorded because they don't affect service. The number of incidents is not up, he said, but the public may be more aware of them because of the T's release of dramatic surveillance video of some of the mishaps.
Davey said it was probably not possible to reduce the number of people who fall in. "We move 1.3 million people a day in the system, throughout the system," he said. He said the man who fell in the pit Wednesday looked "a little bit dazed" before he fell in and the T had no power over the state its passengers might be in when they walk into a station.
He did warn people to stay behind the yellow safety line and never to go into the pit, which is dangerous, even when no trains are around, because of the electrified third rail.
Corrado said she had talked to other operators about similar incidents and, in fact, knows the operator who was involved in another heartstopping incident in the same station in November 2009 in which the train came to a stop within a few feet of a woman who had fallen on the tracks.
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