Records find state officials dragged out timeline for stair repairs where professor fatally fell

The records also show that state agencies didn't know which one was responsible for the neglected staircase.

Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
A gap in the staircase leading to the JFK/UMass MBTA station was visible after David Jones fell to his death in September. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff, file
Death near MBTA Station:

In the aftermath of a Boston University professor fatally falling through a staircase near the JFK/UMass MBTA station, MBTA officials noted that there were staircases in similar condition at other stations.

And, according to The Boston Globe, officials were concerned another, similar accident could happen.

In a trove of public records, the newspaper found that the old, rundown staircase sat for months in its hazardous condition. Plus, there were staircases in two other stations — State and Hynes Convention Center — that also needed stairs fixed.

David K. Jones, 40, of Milton, fell through the stairs, which connected Old Colony Road and the Columbia Road overpass, on Sept. 11. A passerby saw Jones’s body under the stairs, officials said at the time.


The stairs had been closed off since January 2020, and there had been fencing and a barrier, officials said shortly after Jones died.

Via the emails and documents obtained by the Globe, the paper found that the T did inspect the stairs occasionally. It had been warned by riders and its own workers about them. Yet, a permit wasn’t filed to fix them, and though a sign said the repairs would be done by fall 2020, it sat there well beyond that deadline.

In March 2019, a rider tweeted that they were concerned about the safety of others using the stairs, but an inspection in May 2019 found the steps had “most elements in good repair.” Then, seven months afterward, three steps fell off, prompting a barricade and the sign about repairs needing to be made.

State agencies also weren’t sure who was responsible for the stairs. In 2009, custody was transferred from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the state Department of Transportation. But the move didn’t transfer custody specifically to the MBTA, and afterward, no one was entirely sure who was supposed to maintain the staircase, the Globe reported.

While MBTA employees noted the condition of the steps, service requests were closed and it wasn’t clear why, according to the newspaper.


Officials also weren’t sure how Jones was able to access the staircase. They were removed soon after the professor’s fatal fall.

Jacquelyn Goddard, a spokeswoman for MassDOT, declined to comment for the Globe‘s story, other than to say that “The MBTA has a process for regularly reviewing the condition of MBTA assets across stations.”

Read the full Globe report here.

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