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Boston Trolley Accident Injures 31; Most Injuries Described As Minor

December 28, 1990

BOSTON (AP) _ A trolley car was struck by another trolley this morning as it unloaded commuters in a station on the edge of Boston Common, injuring 31 people, at least one critically, officials said.

″I just screamed out, ’Everybody hang on and get down 3/8 We’re going to hit 3/8‴ said Steve DePaulo, a passenger on the moving train. ″It just seemed like seconds later we smashed into the trolley in front of us. People just went flying everywhere.″ He said he thought his train was moving rather fast as it entered the station.

The collision between two outbound Green Line trains occurred at around 6:45 a.m. at underground Arlington Station. The Green Line is one of four subway lines operated by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The accident came less than 2 1/2 weeks after more than 250 people were injured at nearby Back Bay station when an Amtrak train struck a commuter train. It also occurred about 2 1/2 hours before a New York City subway fire killed a passenger and injured at least 100 from smoke inhalation.

John Fasana of Emergency Medical Services put the number of injured in the Boston accident at least 31, describing the injuries as ″typical injuries expected from a low-impact collision.″

″Two of them suffered what I would consider to be serious injuries,″ he said. ″The rest of them were walking wounded-type injuries.″

Ernest Jones, a passenger on the stationary trolley, said one minute he was reading his newspaper, the next they were hit and he saw at least four people bleeding from head injuries.

″I was looking at the lady across from me. Next thing I knew the lights went out and she was on the floor,″ he said. ″I saw one man in the back on the floor on his back, crying, obviously in agony, hurt.″

Transit authority officials said each of the one-car trains was carrying about 40 people, with the capacity for 60. They said ridership was light because of the holidays this week. After the accident, riders were bused between stations on each side of the accident site.

Gov. Michael S. Dukakis made the Green Line well-known during the 1988 presidential campaign because he commuted on the line from his home in Brookline to the Massachusetts Statehouse.

At the time of the accident, the area was experiencing its first snowstorm of the season, but officials said they doubted that weather played a role in the underground collision.

″That will be part of the investigation, but it does not appear to be weather related,″ said Nancy Sterling Gleason, a transit authority spokeswoman.

Many of the injured were carried from the station on stretchers.

One person was admitted and listed in critical condition at the New England Medical Center, said Cheryl Paris, a hospital spokeswoman. Other hospitals had not determined whether any of the injured they were treating would have to be admitted.

Mayor Raymond Flynn, who was on the scene shortly after the collision, said he wasn’t ready to believe reports of another rail crash so soon after the Back Bay collision, which remains under investigation.

″You think it’s just some sort of joke at first, that there was another train accident,″ Flynn said. ″But we arrived here and saw the situation.″

Thomas Glynn, transit authority general manager, said despite the fact that there have been two rail crashes in less than three weeks, ″I think in the end people are going to realize that overall our record is good.″

Glynn said operators of both trains were sent for drug and alcohol tests.

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