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Fast-acting T workers averted death on the Orange Line

Two MBTA employees will be recognized Wednesday by the agency for their role in averting tragedy at an Orange Line station last month.

At about 4:10 p.m. July 17, driver Ellen Coulter was rounding a bend near State Street Station when she saw a woman lying below the platform on the inbound tracks.

Coulter threw on the emergency brakes, bringing the train to a halt less than a foot from the woman, according to a statement released last week by Transit Police Chief Paul S. MacMillan.

Jacqueline Osorio, an inspector at the station, contacted the central dispatch to get power cut off and then entered the pit and helped the woman from the pit. According to the statement, the woman said she was trying to kill herself and she was taken to an unspecified hospital for psychiatric evaluation.


“The operator did a great job,” Osorio said in a brief phone interview during a break from work on Saturday afternoon. “The T has great employees on all the lines.”

Coulter, 57, and Osorio, 32, will be presented with a commendation Wednesday morning at Transit Police headquarters.

“The measures taken by both personify their dedication and professionalism and reflect greatly upon themselves and the Authority and are worthy of praise,” the statement said.

Coulter was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

This wasn’t Osorio’s first encounter with a near-miss.

In 2009, after an intoxicated woman fell into the Orange Line tracks at North Station — two stops north of State Street Station — Osorio called the operator of an oncoming train, telling her to pull her emergency brake.

The train stopped just inches from the woman, who escaped with some scrapes on her knees. A video of the near-miss, showing T customers waving their hands to get the driver’s attention, spread far and wide online.


Osorio, who now lives in Jamaica Plain, and operator Charice Lewis, of Mattapan, were recognized by Governor Deval Patrick and interviewed on “The Early Show” on CBS. Several months later, the two were honored at a Red Sox game.

Osorio said she takes the Orange Line to her job. She has worked for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for seven years.

“Unusual occurrences happen to me at work,” Osorio said. “Lightning hitting twice is odd, but that’s how it is.”

In the wake of the incidents, Osorio said her family is showing her admiration, but to a point.

“I have a 9-year-old son, and he’s proud of me,” Osorio said. “He probably doesn’t think I’m cool, but I try my best.”

Chris Stuck-Girard can be reached at chrisstuckgirard@gmail.com.