Two MBTA Green Line trains crashed into each other on Commonwealth Avenue in front of Boston University Friday evening, injuring 25 people and causing significant damage to the trains and trolley tracks, authorities said.
Fire trucks, police cruisers and ambulances with lights and sirens blaring rushed to the scene of the violent crash that occurred just after 6 p.m. and disrupted the commute and stunned people shopping and dining in the busy area on a warm summer evening.
“It was so fast. Very, very fast,” said Flavio Correa, 45, of Allston, who was aboard one of the trains with his wife. They were not badly injured — he bumped his knee and elbow, and she hit her chest. He saw a little girl with a small cut on her chin.
Other passengers suffered gashes on their arms and legs and helped several of them to get off the train, he said.
The MBTA said late Friday night that 25 people were taken to hospitals for treatment. Among the injured are four drivers aboard the two trains, officials said. The Boston Fire Department said the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Service on the B Line, which runs through the BU campus, was disrupted for several hours while rescue efforts were underway and investigators remained at the scene late into the night.
Update for trolley accident at Commonwealth Av & Pleasant St… we have a count of 23 patients transported by multiple EMS agencies. No life threatening injuries reported at this time. Please avoid area. pic.twitter.com/qWx7s7SUuj— Boston Fire Dept. (@BostonFire) July 30, 2021
Photos posted by the fire department show the front of one of the trains crushed and dented with the glass on the windshield cracked.
MBTA general manager Steve Poftak said he did not know the details of the injuries to the driver of the train that caused the crash, whom he did not identify.
“They’re currently receiving medical treatment,” Poftak told reporters at the scene. “It’s likely they’ll be on leave until the investigation is completed.
The trains were headed west when “the trailing train collided with the train in front of it,” Poftak said.
Boston EMS transported the injured passengers to hospitals, all conscious and alert, Poftak said.
“Obviously our first thoughts are with them and our second thought … turns to an investigation, trying to understand why this happened,” Poftak said, adding that the MBTA has notified state and federal safety officials.
Asked to try to explain how the crash happened, Poftak said, “I think the only conclusion we can draw is that, obviously, at some point, they became too close together. … That obviously should not happen.”
He said that once investigators have completed examining the scene, the T will work to get the trains back on the rails and make any necessary repairs.
“I can’t give you a precise timeline,” he said.
The sidewalk outside Agganis Arena was unusually quiet for a late July night. Bright lights illuminated the crash scene and nearby streets remained closed. Some passersby paused to look as more than a dozen MBTA employees dressed in bright yellow safety vests worked late into the night.
The crash disrupted train service. Shuttle buses replaced service from Kenmore Square to Washington Street, the MBTA said.
Miltch Pierre, 21, was working inside Blaze Pizza on Commonwealth Avenue when he felt the building begin to violently shake, a sensation he’d never felt before, he said.
“I was like, what could possibly be shaking everything this hard?” Pierre said. “When I turned around, there was a bunch of smoke outside.”
Pierre watched passengers scramble out of the trolleys after the collision.
“There were big crowds of people rushing to get out of the train. One girl had blood all over her face,” he said “I saw two or three get taken away on ambulances, people in neck braces. It was wild.”
Recent BU graduates Boni Lacourse, 23, and Matt Heerema, 24, said they were riding an inbound train that pulled alongside the crashed trolleys soon after the collision.
“I saw the aftermath,” Lacourse said. “I saw one of the train drivers come out of the train — she was very disturbed, as you could imagine. She came out and was wanting to make sure everybody was OK and everybody was able to get off the train.”
The trip was Lacourse and Heerema’s first T ride since before the coronavirus pandemic, and it was a startling reentry, Lacourse said.
“We were going downtown, and to see this, it doesn’t make you feel great,” she said. “It’s a rare occurrence, but it doesn’t make you feel great.”
Heerema said, though, that the crash wouldn’t make him change his plans.
“I’ll still ride the T,” he said.
“It’s the only way to get around,” Lacourse added. “You’ve got to take it.”
The last time two Green Line trolleys collided was in 2009, when a 24-year-old operator ran a red signal and rear-ended another trolley. The crash injured 49 people, caused $10 million in damage, and led to 24 lawsuits, as well as policy changes for MBTA drivers, who are no longer allowed to carry cellphones while working.
The driver responsible for the 2009 crash told authorities he had been text messaging his girlfriend when it occurred.
Kathy McCabe of the Globe Staff contributed to this story.
BREAKING: Two Green Line trolleys have collided on the B Branch. You can see quite a bit of damage. More info to come. @MBTA #WBZ pic.twitter.com/e6m5gReqfm— David Wade (@davidwade) July 30, 2021
#BREAKING: Multiple people injured after two @MBTA Green line trains collided on Comm Ave near #BostonUniversity. @NBC10Boston pic.twitter.com/4SvR73VYCU— Eli Rosenberg NBC10 Boston (@EliNBCBoston) July 30, 2021
BREAKING: Apparent green line collision between two trains right around Boston University along the beeline. A bunch of people are here getting treated for injuries. We see some neck braces and ice patches. #WBZ pic.twitter.com/iip3GmbTf6— Kristina Rex (@KristinaRex) July 30, 2021
Katie Redefer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.