BOSTON -- The driver of a Green Line trolley that rear-ended another trolley, injuring at least 46 people near Boston's Government Center station Friday, was texting at the time of the crash, MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas said.
"At about 7:18 this evening, a Green Line train that was departing from Government Center headed westbound toward Park Street had stopped at a red (signal) -- traffic can be heavy at Park Street. While that train was waiting, a second Green Line train struck that train from behind," Grabauskas said.
NewsCenter 5's Sean Kelly said the driver is 24, has been on the job for 22 months and suffered a broken wrist in the crash.
"The operator of the striking train was interviewed at the hospital by two detectives. During that interview, he admitted he was texting at the time of the accident," Grabauskas said.
Grabauskas said the MBTA has a zero-tolerance policy for texting or talking on cell phones while operating a bus, train or trolley.
"Based on the preliminary investigation -- if the final investigation bears out the same facts, this individual will lose their job," Grabauskas said.
The injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals. At least eight of the injured people were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.
"It was a very chaotic scene. We had some people trapped, and there were several extrications involved. So we had to bring up extra technical units to perform those operations," Deputy Chief Richard DiBenedetto said.
The most seriously injured of those on the trains was the driver of the second car, according to Boston Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald. As of about 9 p.m. Friday, the driver was listed in stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital, Deputy Superintendent John Gill said.
Many of the passengers were able to walk out of the station and were triaged by emergency medical technicians and firefighters at the scene, fire officials said. Most of their injuries were lacerations and not believed to be life-threatening, Gill said. Kelly said he saw many passengers with severe bruises on their faces.
"They are all in stable condition," said Dr. Paul Biddenger of Massachusetts General Hospital. "I would expect some will be discharged (Friday night), but I don't know if all will be able to go home tonight."
Boston firefighters struck a third alarm in order to bring in the manpower necessary to remove the passengers from the trains. DiBenedetto said about 120 firefighters responded to the four-car crash.
The Big Apple Circus tent had been set up for performances on City Hall Plaza. As patrons left the circus, EMTs were continuing to treat injured passengers.
Green Line service was disrupted after the crash. Red, Orange and Blue line service was not affected. MBTA officials hope to resume regular Green Line service for Saturday morning.
In October, the MBTA said it had suspended nine bus and trolley drivers since May 2008 for texting or talking on cell phones while driving. The suspensions ranged from three to 10 days.
"We have repeated time and time again to our employees that it's is against the rules and you are subject to all the way up to termination if you are texting on the cell phone or any other electronic device while you are operating a bus or train," Grabauskas said.
The MBTA stepped up enforcement of the rule after a Green Line trolley driver was killed in a crash on May 28, 2008. Although there were initial reports Terrese Edmonds was using her cell phone just before the crash, an investigation ultimately determined she was not using her phone.
Texting has been blamed in last September's train crash near Los Angeles where 25 people were killed when a commuter train slammed head-on into a freight train.
Investigators found the passenger train operator, who was killed in the crash, was sending text messages and ran through a red signal without touching the brakes.