Operator of MBTA train involved in crash acquitted
BOSTON (AP) — The driver of a Boston light-rail trolley that crashed into the rear of another train in the summer of 2021, sending 27 people to the hospital, was cleared by a jury Wednesday of a gross negligence charge.
Owen Turner, 51, was acquitted by the Brighton Municipal Court jury after about 30 minutes of deliberations. The trial started Tuesday.
“I always said I was innocent, and I am glad that they found me innocent,” Turner said outside of court.
The crash, defense attorney Matthew Peterson said, was nothing more than an accident.
The prosecution alleged that Turner neglected his duties, disregarded some safety protocols, and exceeded speed limits.
The crash on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Green Line B branch on July 30, 2021, near Boston University sent 24 passengers and three MBTA employees to the hospital with minor injuries.
It was one of several dangerous incidents that prompted a federal review of the MBTA’s light rail and subway system, as well as orders by the Federal Transit Administration to fix the problems.
The National Transportation Safety Board in its report on the crash released last month said Turner told investigators that he blacked out and may have fallen asleep, leading to a “loss of situational awareness” just before the trolley accelerated at full power to 33 mph (53 kph), well above the speed limit.
The trolley that was struck was traveling about 10 mph (17 kph) at the time of impact.
Testing determined that Turner was not impaired by alcohol or drugs, investigators said, and there were no mechanical problems with his trolley.
The MBTA fired Turner.
The MBTA in a statement thanked jurors and investigators and said it plans to install a system on the Green Line that “uses safety monitoring equipment like radar, signals, and cameras to transmit data to the train as it moves along the tracks” that will prevent collisions.