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Federal investigators examined Red Line door after man dragged, killed at Broadway T stop

An inbound Red Line train arrived at Broadway Station in Boston.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that federal investigators on the ground in Massachusetts last week examined the Red Line train car door that trapped Robinson Lalin before he died on April 10 at the Broadway T station.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office said Lalin, 39, got stuck in the train car’s doors before he was dragged a short distance and died. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway car doors are designed to reopen when obstructed and trains are not meant to move unless all doors are closed, experts have said.

The Red Line car involved in the death is among the oldest in the MBTA’s subway fleet. It entered service in 1969 or 1970, agency spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said last week. The MBTA is still waiting on delivery of hundreds of new Red Line train cars from a Chinese company first contracted in 2014 that are supposed to replace the old cars.

On Wednesday, Pesaturo said, “the Red Line cars and all of their components, including doors, are inspected, tested, and maintained regularly. MBTA vehicle maintenance personnel work around the clock to keep the Red Line fleet operating safely in a state of good repair.”

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Keith Holloway, spokesperson for the NTSB, has said Lalin was exiting the train at the time of the tragedy. The agency is reviewing surveillance footage as part of its investigation. Federal investigators wrapped up their on-the-scene work last week and returned to Washington, D.C., Holloway said.

Although he did say in response to a Globe question that “part of the on-scene investigation included an examining of the door and train involved in the accident,” Holloway declined to give more detail Wednesday.

“At this point, NTSB will not go into the specifics of that examination as evidence is continuing to be reviewed and analyzed,” he said via e-mail.

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The NTSB will provide a preliminary report about Lalin’s death in the next few weeks, Holloway said. A report about the cause could take one to two years.

Lalin’s nephew last week said the family has not received information from the MBTA about exactly how Lalin died.

Neither the T nor the NTSB has telegraphed what, if anything, a preliminary investigation has found and whether they think the death was the result of operator error, mechanical error, something else, or some combination of factors.

MBTA board members charged with overseeing safety at the agency did not ask T staff any questions about Lalin’s death at their regularly scheduled public meeting last week. Pesaturo said the NTSB has instructed the agency not to provide information about the death while the federal investigation is underway.

The car involved in the tragedy remains out of service and the operator of the train at the time remains on leave, Pesaturo said.

MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak has repeatedly declined interview requests about the safety of the transit system since the tragedy.

A Globe review of news archives found that several people have been injured after getting stuck in subway doors on the MBTA system since the 1990s.

Lalin’s death is the latest in a recent series of safety problems on the MBTA.


Taylor Dolven can be reached at taylor.dolven@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @taydolven.