BOSTON (CBS) – The driver injured when his stopped trolley was rammed from behind at the Boylston Green Line station last month is talking with WBZ-TV about the ordeal for the first time. Stephen Perno, a 26-year employee with the MBTA, suffered a broken spine and twisted lower back in the accident that the MBTA has determined was caused by a fatigued driver on a second trolley that never stopped as it approached the station.
“There was a loud noise and then the train lurched forward,” said Perno who was at the controls and slightly turned to the right watching passengers exit the train. “It’s like a wave and I was the last person to get the shockwave. You’re not expecting the impact to come and I was thrown forward and twisted around. It happened so quickly.”
Perno was supposed to receive a Safe Driver Award the day after the accident, but was hospitalized instead. Today, MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott arrived at his home to present the award in person. “Thank you very much for your service to the T,” she said hugging him. “It is absolutely an honor and a privilege.”
Perno says he was touched by the visit but called it both a happy and sad day. He knew the driver of the second train who has since been fired for what the MBTA called his inattentiveness. It was determined he had worked an overnight shift at a second job before reporting to work on the Green Line. That driver was also supposed to receive a safety award.
“I’m happy to get the award but nobody wins in this. I wish my co-worker was standing next to me getting the award with me if I could turn back time. I don’t want anything like this to happen,” said Perno.
His injuries have been an ordeal, confined to a brace 24 hours a day to keep his neck straight. He has an upcoming appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist to determine how soon he can go back to work. “I’m hoping they tell me it’s healing. Trust me, I’d rather have my routine back and go back to work,” he said.
While the cause of the crash has been determined, Beverly Scott says she is still reviewing the accident, including the policy of allowing drivers to have a second job, though she says she doesn’t want to impose any “draconian” measures.
“What we will be is very clear about what you must present if you wind up doing this job,” she said calling safety the priority.
Perno says in his years on the job, getting a personal visit from the GM is “the nicest thing that has happened”.