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Amtrak Investigates Commuter’s Death

August 2, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ An Amtrak official said Friday that New England area trains have been ordered to stop at the closest station for medical emergencies following the heart attack death of a passenger earlier this week.

James Allen, 61, fell unconscious Tuesday while riding the Framingham-to-Boston train. As a crew member administered CPR, the train continued regular service for about 17 minutes and made two more stops before reaching Boston’s Back Bay station, where paramedics had been dispatched.

Allen died several hours later.

Amtrak said it was still investigating how its crew reacted. Chief operating officer E.S. Bagley Jr. said operating procedures do not specify when and where a train must stop during a medical emergency, and the discretion is left to the conductor.

``While we understand that Mr. Allen’s family and many others are anxiously awaiting the outcome of this investigation, it is important that there not be a rush to judgment,″ Bagley wrote.

However, Bagley said a notice had been issued to Amtrak’s New England Division ordering trains to stop at the closest station.

A transcript released by CSX, which owns the tracks, showed an unidentified crew member reporting that a passenger had ``passed out,″ and requesting medical assistance at the Back Bay station. No crew member requested permission to bypass any stations.

Amtrak has suspended the conductor, whose name has not been released.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which hired Amtrak to provide its commuter crews, had demanded the railroad’s report by Thursday.

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