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Family awaits answers in death of man dragged by Red Line train

"He was loved by everyone, and many will mourn his death for a long time."

Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
A Red Line train arrives at South Station in Boston, MA on August 11, 2021.

The family of the 39-year-old man who died Sunday after being dragged by a Red Line train when his arm became trapped in the door is demanding answers.

Lalin Family
Robinson Lalin, 39, was killed after he became stuck in the door of a Red Line train at the Broadway MBTA station on Sunday, April 10, 2022. – Handout

They also are describing the horrifying way Robinson Lalin died as a result of the incident, which happened around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday at the Broadway T station.

“He ended up being dragged to the end of the platform where his arm was detached and his body smashed against the wall,” Kelvin Lalin, Robinson’s nephew, said in an interview on WCVB.

He said that as a result the family can’t have an open-casket funeral, the station reported.

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The incident and Lalin’s death are being investigated by transit police and the National Transportation Safety Board. The individual who was operating the train at the time has been removed from service while the investigation is underway.

The MBTA has not disclosed many details related to the circumstances surrounding Robinson Lalin’s death, including whether or not the train malfunctioned or if the operator of the train was at fault.

The transit agency also hasn’t said if Lalin was getting on or off the train at the time.

Asked if there were any updates on the investigation on Tuesday, Joe Pesaturo, a spokesman for the MBTA, directed media inquiries about the incident to the NTSB. 

In an email, a spokesperson for the federal agency said investigators remain on scene and anticipate finishing the on the ground portion of the investigation within the next few days. They are looking at equipment and conducting interviews and will create a preliminary report.

There isn’t a date when the report will be released, according to the spokesperson.

Robinson Lalin rode the T often, Kelvin told The Boston Globe.

The train that he became trapped in entered service in 1969 or 1970, according to the newspaper, making it roughly 52 or 53 years old.

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“It breaks my heart,” Neny Norales, Lalin’s aunt, told WCVB. “It broke my heart, especially how he died. It’s terrible.”

The edges of the train door are supposed to be sensitive and open if there’s something in the way, according to WCVB. The doors lock if they don’t detect anything.

The operators are also supposed to only move forward after the doors have been closed, according to the Globe.

“If the door never opened and a man’s hand got stuck in the door, there’s definitely technical problems or mechanical issues with the train, which the MBTA is responsible for,” Kelvin Lalin told WCVB. “A man’s life was tragically lost.”

Josh Ostroff, interim director of Transportation for Massachusetts, said in a statement he expects the MBTA’s board will address the incident at its April 28 meeting.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robinson Lalin,” he said. “This is a senseless, preventable tragedy that has taken a life and impacted many more. Now it is critical that the MBTA undertake and report on an investigation into the causes of this event, and that there be a full public accounting to understand how this happened in light of the MBTA’s 2019 Safety Review Panel report and recommendations.”

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A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for Lalin’s funeral expenses. So far, it has raised $1,480 with a stated goal of $30,000.

“Robinson was an amazing man who always had a huge smile, a warm heart and loved to help everyone around his community,” the page reads. “He will be greatly missed. He was loved by everyone, and many will mourn his death for a long time.”

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