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Texting Green Line Driver Pleads Guilty In Crash

BOSTON (CBS/AP) - A former Green Line driver who was texting his girlfriend just before his trolley slammed into the rear of another one, injuring more than 60 people, has changed his plea to guilty.

Aiden Quinn pleaded guilty on Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court to gross negligence by a person in control of a common carrier in connection with the May 2009 crash at the Government Center subway stop.

Other than pleading guilty Quinn had little to say about crashing the train. It sent 65 people to hospitals, some with bumps and bruises, other with broken bones. The crash did $10 million damage to MBTA equipment.

WBZ-TV's Ron Sanders reports.

He had previously pleaded not guilty.

Quinn was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.  He'll be on probation for two years.

Prosecutors say he admitted typing a text message to his girlfriend just before the crash.

He then ran through yellow and red warning lights and into the two-car train ahead of him.

He was later fired.

"My life is drastically different. Physically, my mobility is limited. I use a cane for balance," said crash victim Samantha Mattei whose back was fractured. Her impact statement was presented in court where Quinn faced a maximum of two and a half years in jail for grossly negligent train operation. 

Mattei and the only two other crash victims who submitted statements said jail time would not be appropriate. She rode to the hospital in the ambulance with Quinn.  "I do remember him asking if people were hurt and he knew he messed up and he seemed remorseful," she said.  "I'm not angry at him.  I'm upset he made a mistake and it's affected my life."

"We're very relieved. Aiden's relieved that he won't be going to jail. He's suffered a lot of over this. He feels terribly remorseful about what happened and now, hopefully, he can try to move on with his life," said James Sultan, Quinn's defense attorney who read an apology to the court on his client's behalf. 

It said, in part, "I am deeply sorry that the result of my carelessness has caused so much pain and expense for others...I pray that one day I will be able to make amends in some way to the affected persons."

"I have had to take a reduced course load. Keeping up with my studies has become much more difficult because of post-concussive syndrome," said Mattei, who is a junior at Merrimack College where she is studying chemistry.  She said she still thinks about following through on her lifelong wish of being a doctor or a research scientist, but she's not sure how that will work out now.  

Her impact statement said she now has traumatic-onset A.D.D. and a stutter.  She also said she can't drive or take the Green Line because she has flashbacks, can't ride a bike, skateboard and has fallen down stairs because of her loss of balance.

After the crash, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority enacted a policy banning operators from possessing cell phones or other devices on the job.

Quinn's attorney said he now faces many civil suits.

WBZ-TV's Ron Sanders contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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