CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - The woman hit by a utility box at the Harvard Red Line station plans to sue the MBTA.
28-year-old Joycelyn Johnson, a Harvard University PhD. student, suffered serious injuries, including a detached clavicle, when she was struck by an approximately 200 pound piece of equipment that fell on the station’s Red Line inbound platform on May 1.
The victim, who was on her way home to Quincy at the time, said her injuries will require long-term medical treatment and impact her studies. Now, her lawyer says he is filing a notice of intention to sue.
“I walked over to the pillar – I stood there and suddenly, something came crashing down and there was a resounding thud that I felt in my body. I staggered a bit and I didn’t fall, but I could feel a numbing sensation coursing throughout my arm, my shoulder and back,” Johnson said on Wednesday..
Speaking to news reporters in front of Harvard Station with her arm in a sling, she said she has not felt comfortable going into a T station since the incident.
“To know that we aren’t able to be safe while taking the transit system is just, honestly, ridiculous,” she added.
The equipment itself had been suspended from a pole within the station and hit the woman as it came down. MBTA officials later determined that a corroded support strap led to the utility box falling.
The equipment was one of 14 utility boxes that were part of a pilot program from 2011 that was led by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and had been funded by the Department of Homeland Security. However, it had not been in use for ten years. The T later announced it had finished removing all remaining utility boxes from three Red Line stations.
“The MBTA’s top priority is delivering safe and reliable service,” the T said in a statement on Wednesday. “The MBTA deeply regrets that this incident occurred, and know that we continue to work every day to ensure safety for all.”
“In the past, there’s been a real gap between what the MBTA says and what they ultimately do,” said Johnson’s attorney, Thomas Flaws of Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. “We’re glad they recognized that they have a real problem inside of these stations. But, six weeks earlier, a ceiling tile fell in Harvard Square and narrowly missed somebody.”
This incident indeed came just two months after a ceiling panel fell on a platform at Harvard station on March 1. Officials said the panel served to boost the aesthetics of the station and absorb noise, adding that it weighed between 20 and 25 pounds.
“We hope that it’s not just words from the MBTA, and that they actually follow through on what they’ve said,” Flaws said on Wednesday.
Johnson’s litigation is expected to be filed after a six-month waiting period required by state law.
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