Metro

Operator of runaway train no longer a T employee

Officials inspected the Red Line train that took off without an operator last week.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/File
Officials inspected the Red Line train that took off without an operator last week.

The general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has sent a letter firing the Red Line driver whose train took off without him last week, according to a union official.

General Manager Frank DePaola was expected to fire train driver David Vazquez, 53, after the MBTA held a disciplinary hearing for him Tuesday. At the time, Vazquez’s lawyer, Philip Gordon, called the move to fire Vazquez premature.

When asked about Vazquez’s status, Transportation Department spokesman Michael Verseckes said in an email, “The individual you had asked about is not an employee of the MBTA.”

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On Thursday morning, Vazquez’s train took off without him and sailed through four stations before MBTA employees in its operation controls center successfully stopped the vehicle. About 50 passengers were still on the train, and nobody had been hurt.

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Preliminary findings from an investigation suggested that Vazquez had tied down a controller meant to move the train forward, and failed to set an emergency brake before he exited the train, according to an official briefed on the investigation.

Vazquez has a right to appeal under the union contract.

Gordon said his client is likely to appeal the decision.

He also said he was surprised that the T moved to fire Vazquez so quickly, after he had already been suspended without pay. “I don’t understand why they rushed to terminate a man’s employment that quickly,” he said. “There’s no safety issue there. He’s not driving a train.”