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    MBTA driver in recent crash had firing overturned in 2010

    An MBTA Green Line trolley derailed and struck a wall near Kenmore Station on Monday.
    Boston Fire Department
    An MBTA Green Line trolley derailed and struck a wall near Kenmore Station on Monday.

    State Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said Thursday that he previously fired Sydley Gardner, the Green Line driver involved in this week’s trolley crash near Kenmore Station, because Gardner had failed to report a collision with a pedestrian. But the T was forced to rehire the driver after an arbitrator ruled in his favor, Davey said.

    “Obviously, I disagreed with the arbitrator’s decision,’’ Davey said. “If not, I wouldn’t have moved to terminate him.”

    Davey was general manager of the MBTA in September 2010 when he ordered that Gardner be fired.


    The president of Carmen’s Union Local 589, James M. O’Brien, said in a telephone interview Thursday that he would not respond directly to Davey’s comments about Gardner. But O’Brien said that an arbitrator reviewed the case and reached his own conclusion on Gardner’s career as a trolley driver.

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    “Sydley was discharged,’’ O’Brien said. “The independent arbitrator returned him to work with back pay and back wages.”

    O’Brien said he could not discuss what Gardner may have told him about the most recent incident at Kenmore Station, because of the MBTA’s ongoing investigation into the accident that injured at least 10 people.

    O’Brien said that if Gardner faces a new set of sanctions for Monday’s crash and if Gardner files a grievance, the union will represent him as required under the union’s rules and the collective bargaining agreement it has with the MBTA.

    According to a Transit Police report and an official familiar with the incident, Gardner, 48, was fired because he failed to report that he had struck a woman when he was operating a Green Line trolley Sept. 5, 2010. MBTA protocol requires a driver involved in an accident, regardless of the level of injury sustained by the other party, to get out of the vehicle and undergo drug and alcohol testing while the incident is investigated by the agency.


    Transit Police interviewed the woman, identified as Annie Wong, shortly after the accident, according to a Transit Police report.

    “During my basic and brief interview, Ms. Wong admitted to bending over onto the yellow warning tape to retrieve an item, perhaps a dollar bill,’’ the Transit Police officer wrote. “In doing so, she failed to observe the moving inbound trolley.”

    The woman was taken to Tufts Medical Center for treatment and evaluation, according to the report.

    The Transit Police report identifies the operator of the trolley as Gardner, but does not include any mention of Gardner’s failure to report the incident to his superiors.

    Gardner could not be reached for comment Thursday.


    Investigators have been focusing on excessive speed as a potential cause of this week’s crash, after no problems were found with the tracks, signals, or the trolley that jumped the tracks and derailed.

    The accident happened at the intersection of the Green Line’s C and D branches just west of Kenmore Station at 12:20 p.m. Many victims suffered back injuries after the first car of the train crashed into a tunnel wall.

    Davey said he would be guided by the results of the investigation, whether it means acting against Gardner or moving to upgrade the subway line where the crash took place.

    Gardner has been on leave while the MBTA investigates this week’s crash.

    Martine Powers can be reached at John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@