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Unwelcome start to their romantic weekend

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent / May 9, 2009
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Laszlo Panajoth and Danielle Harris had been dating for more than two years before Danielle moved to the East Coast to pursue graduate studies at Boston College. Panajoth, of Denver, flew to Boston yesterday for a long weekend as the two try to get past the distance and rekindle their romance.

"That's all I needed was a subway crash," said Panajoth, 28.

The pair was riding in the front trolley car yesterday evening when another Green Line trolley, driven by a 24-year-old who was text messaging his own girlfriend, rammed their train from behind, derailing both trains and injuring Panajoth, Harris, and dozens of others.

"We were sitting on the train, and the train stopped. Then we heard a big bang and all the lights went out," said Panajoth.

Panajoth's legs slammed against something hard. Harris's neck jerked backward. She heard a crack. The 30-year-old nurse immediately thought the worst and started crying, trying to keep her neck and back still.

"I was never so scared. It was so unexpected," said Harris. She was treated and released at Boston Medical Center with what she later told the Globe was "a major case of whiplash."

Harris said it was like a scene from a movie. "People were just screaming out loud, calling for their significant others," she said. "I was just trying to take it all in."

When help arrived, rescuers pried open a side door and led the passengers to the surface.

"The scariest thing was that we were underground. You don't know what happened. It was kind of scary," Panajoth said.

Panajoth, who escaped with a bruise, said he was worried that the romantic weekend started out on the wrong foot. Not so, said Harris.

"In a way that brings us closer together," she said. "He came and looked at me and wanted to make sure I was OK. He kissed me and hugged me. I wanted him there every second."

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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