The Boston man killed in last month’s horrific Red Line accident ran alongside the inbound train with his right arm trapped between closed doors before he lost his balance and was dragged to his death, according to a MBTA Transit Police report obtained by The Boston Globe.
The preliminary report provides the most detailed account to date of the April 10 death of Robinson Lalin, 39, and reveals that afterward, the train stopped for a short time in the tunnel outside Broadway Station for an “unspecified mechanical issue” before proceeding. The train was ultimately stopped at Downtown Crossing after the MBTA determined it had been involved in the death, the report said. By that point, the train had traveled to the end of the line at Alewife Station and back downtown, the report said.
A witness reported the tragedy to Transit Police at about 12:31 a.m., about three minutes after the train arrived at Broadway Station, the report said. The train consists of six cars with the operator positioned in the lead car. Lalin was in the car behind the lead car, the report said.
Lalin stepped off the train and onto the platform, but then went back onto the train before exiting a second time. When he did, his right arm got caught between the doors. His body was found about 75 feet inside the tunnel, the report said.
In a statement, an MBTA spokesman said that “immediately following the incident, the door systems throughout the Red Line fleet were tested, and MBTA personnel found all components performed as designed and did not identify any additional instances of the circuitry problem the incident car experienced on April 10.”
“During rigorous testing, the problem with the incident car was not discovered in any of the other Red Line cars of the same make and model,” the statement read. “MBTA personnel, who perform regularly scheduled preventative maintenance, are supplementing existing door inspection protocols with additional testing to prevent this issue from occurring again.”
The MBTA has been “acting aggressively to improve safety at all levels” with an unprecedented $8 billion in infrastructure and vehicle investments over the past five years, the statement added.
Lalin’s nephew, Kelvin, said Tuesday that his uncle “did not deserve to die the way he did.”
He said his family has unanswered questions about what happened and hasn’t heard from the MBTA beyond speaking with Transit Police about releasing Lalin’s body from the medical examiner’s office.
“I don’t know if they’re ducking the family at the moment,” he said. “That’s what it feels like.”
Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board said “a fault” in a door control system on the train contributed to Lalin’s death. The trains are designed and equipped with safety features to prevent them from moving when the passenger doors are obstructed, the NTSB said in a preliminary report. After Lalin died, NTSB investigators examined and tested the car and found a “fault in a local door control system that enabled the train to move with the door obstructed.”
Lalin was dragged more than 100 feet along the platform and “onto the surface below, near the tracks,” the NTSB said.
After the fatal incident, the MBTA searched its fleet for other railcars with the same problem, and found nothing similar.
The train involved in Lalin’s death entered service in 1969 or 1970, the MBTA has said. The agency is waiting for delivery of hundreds of new Red Line cars from a Chinese company first contracted in 2014 to replace the aging fleet.
Lalin’s death is among several recent MBTA safety episodes being scrutinized by the federal government. Last month, the Federal Transit Administration told MBTA officials it planned to launch a safety inspection, marking only the second time the federal agency has intervened on the local level in this way.
In an April 14 letter, Joe DeLorenzo, FTA’s associate administrator for transit safety and oversight and chief safety officer, said the agency is “extremely concerned with the ongoing safety issues” at the MBTA and will take on an “increased safety oversight role.”
In January, a commuter rail train struck a woman’s car, killing her, when the crossing gates and flashing lights meant to keep cars off the tracks in Wilmington did not activate in time. Keolis operates the MBTA’s commuter rail system.
In September, a Red Line train derailed and hit the platform at Broadway Station with 47 passengers on board. No injuries were reported.
The derailment came two days after an ascending escalator malfunctioned at Back Bay Station and suddenly shifted into reverse, causing a bloody pileup of people at the bottom. Nine people were sent to the hospital.
The driver of a Green Line train that crashed into the one in front of it in July, injuring 27, has pleaded not guilty to negligence charges. The Globe has reported that he had a history of speed infractions at the MBTA. In response to the crash, the MBTA is accelerating the implementation of a technology meant to prevent collisions on the Green Line from 2024 to next year, 14 years after federal transportation investigators first recommended it.
Laura Crimaldi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Taylor Dolven can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @taydolven.