, Gloucester, MA

August 27, 2013

Woman survives train strike

Neighbors rush to her aid, say she was calm, polite

By Sean Horgan
Staff Writer

---- — An unidentified woman was struck by a northbound MBTA commuter rail train and pinned under the front of the engine Monday morning near the intersection of Willow and Cedar streets, suffering what the MBTA said were “non-life threatening injuries.”

The accident, which occurred just before 9 a.m., shut down service on the Rockport line for about 90 minutes, as passengers were shifted to bus service until rail service resumed around 10:30 a.m., said MBTA spokeswoman Kelly Smith.

Smith said the woman was transported to Beverly Hospital for treatment.

According to witnesses, the woman was standing on the west side of the tracks, near where the rail crossings at Willow and Cedar streets intersect, when the No. 103 train out of North Station approached from the nearby Gloucester station.

“I heard the (train) horn blowing and saw the train going slower and slower,” said Peter Luoni, who witnessed the incident while sitting in a lawn chair in the driveway of 12 Cedar St., which abuts the tracks on the east side of the Daniel B. Stepenuck Railroad Crossing. “I saw her get dragged and she was pinned under the shield at the very front of the train.”

Area residents, some of whom witnessed the incident, moved quickly to help the injured woman.

Scott Flanagan of 8 Cedar St., said the woman appeared to be “leaning over the tracks when the train hit her,” and rushed to her as she was pinned under the shield at the very front of the train. Flanagan said he and the train’s unidentified conductor worked together to pull the woman out from under the train.

“She was kind of dazed, so I leaned her up against my knee and tried to comfort her as best I could,” Flanagan said. “I asked her her name and how old she was.”

The woman, according to Flanagan, said her name was Angela and that she was 43 and lives on Arthur Street.

“She was pretty calm and very polite given the circumstances,” Flanagan said. “She looked like she had a pretty serious injury to her left knee. It was all cut up. But other than that, she seemed OK, thank God.”

Phil Barnett was walking down Willow Street toward his residence at 6 Willow St. when he saw the stopped train. As he got closer to the tracks, Barnett saw Flanagan and the conductor pulling the woman from beneath the train.

“He (Flanagan) was holding onto the lady’s hand and they were talking to her,” Barnett he said. “They yelled ‘Call 911.’ So I did.”

Mary Beth Collins, who also lives at 6 Willow St., said she was standing on her front steps around 8:55 a.m. when she glanced toward the tracks.

“I saw this girl and she looked like she was waiting for the train,” Collins said. “I thought it might be somebody I knew. Then the train stopped and I didn’t see her anymore.”

Gloucester police responded quickly to the scene, blocking off parts of Maplewood Avenue, as well as Willow, Cedar, Cleveland and Elm streets. They were soon joined by a half-dozen MBTA Transit Police officers and investigators as the train sat idling at the Daniel B. Stepenuck Railroad Crossing.

Transit Police crime scene investigators combed the area around the train and took photos. At 10:27 a.m. the engine began pulling the five-car train out of the crossing and police started clearing the scene.

Citing internal policy, Smith and the MBTA Transit Police declined to name the woman struck by the train. A Beverly Hospital spokeswoman said the hospital could not provide an updated condition for the woman without being provided a last name. Smith also said the investigation is ongoing and there has been no determination whether the woman, considered a trespasser by the MBTA, will be charged with any crimes.

Sean Horgan may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT