Green Line operator found not guilty of negligence in train crash that injured 27
Some significant information was kept from jurors during the trial due to evidentiary rules.
The operator of a Green Line train which crashed and injured 27 people in July of 2021 has been found not guilty of negligence in connection with the crash, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.
A Brighton Municipal Court jury decided 51-year-old Owen Turner was not to blame for the incident, during which his train rear-ended another train on the Green Line’s B branch near the Babcock Street stop.
”This was an accident. It was nothing more or nothing less than that,” Turner’s lawyer Matthew Peterson told reporters outside the courtroom after the decision was read.
Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Addady was barred from informing jurors that 27 people were hurt in the crash or detailing how badly they were hurt due to evidentiary rules, the Globe reported. Jurors also weren’t told that Turner had been suspended six times by the MBTA during his seven years working there, including for speeding.
Turner neglected his duties and disregarded safety protocols, Addady said during his opening statement Tuesday, “and consequently, he crashed his train into another causing a pretty severe accident.”
Turner, a Mattapan resident, was fired by the MBTA for the crash, which happened July 30, 2021.
Turner’s train recorded that it was traveling at 31 mph on a length of track with a 10 mph speed limit at the time of the crash, the Globe reported. Data from the train also showed that Turner never hit the breaks.
Witnesses testified that Turner told police he didn’t remember anything between getting the signal to go to the next stop and hitting the train, the Globe reported. The day of the crash, Turner told police he wasn’t asleep at the time of the crash, but next day told them he was.
Peterson told jurors that Turner was unconscious at the time of the crash, but that he wasn’t intoxicated or on his phone, the Globe reported.
“He had a medical issue. And we’re just glad that the jury saw that for what it was,” Peterson said after the trial concluded.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a January 2023 report that a technology that automatically applies a train’s brakes to keep it from speeding or hitting another train, which the MBTA had planned to install in Green Line trains at the time of the crash but didn’t, would’ve prevented the crash.
The system, which was first recommended by the NTSB 14 years ago, still won’t be installed on the Green Line until 2025, the report said.
“Working expeditiously to install the train protection system on the Green Line, the MBTA is committed to further strengthening its policies, procedures, and resources for the safety of our riders and employees,” the MBTA told the Globe in a statement.
Turner told reporters he was relieved by the verdict, and that he still doesn’t remember what happened when the train crashed, the Globe reported.
”I would like to know myself,” he said.
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