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Cord Reportedly Found Wrapped Around Accelerator Of Runaway Red Line Train

BRAINTREE (CBS) -- It was one minute after the Red Line train left Braintree station that the emergency call came into the MBTA Operation Control Center that an unmanned train was headed down the track.

Dispatchers saw its progress and began to shut the power. "They began taking sequential sections from Braintree to catch the train as it was moving forward," said Jeff Gonneville, MBTA Chief Operating officer.

There were several trains ahead, and dispatchers had a ten minute window to get the closest one out of the way.

It was an agonizing nine minutes as dispatchers finally cut power to the Braintree line and the train coasted to a stop.

It's a scenario Governor Charlie Baker says was "tampering." "Multiple safety procedures were not followed by one individual which led to the incident yesterday," said Baker.

David Vazquez
David Vazquez. (WBZ-TV)

WBZ-TV has learned that the operator, David Vazquez had wrapped a rubber telephone cord around an accelerator control, known as the Cineston valve that puts the train in motion. When he stepped out to flip a bypass switch due to a signal problem, sources say he had forgotten to remove the cord and the train started rolling, a clear job violation.

"In any way wedging or restricting movement of the Cineston would be a prohibited act subject to operator termination," said Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack.

Investigators say Vazquez is cooperating, and MBTA operators have been sent notice to remind them of "prohibited acts" on the job.

But the dispatchers are being given all the credit for quick thinking. "There is no question that nine minute duration felt like an hour to them during that particular time," said Gonneville.

For years, MBTA trains have been manned with a single operator.

The MBTA will now require the presence of a second technician during a bypass procedure.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Lana Jones reports

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