A passenger door on a Boston subway car was malfunctioning when a man caught his arm and was dragged to his death last month, federal investigators said Monday.
The trains are equipped with safety features to prevent them from moving when the doors are obstructed, the National Transportation Safety Board wrote in the preliminary report.
“NTSB investigators examined and tested the involved car after the accident, identifying a failure in a local door control system that allowed the train to move with the door obstructed,” the report says.
The MBTA in a statement Monday identified the problem as a “short circuit.”
The man, identified by local authorities as Robinson Lalin, 39, of Boston, died around 12:30 a.m. on April 12 while exiting the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Red Line train from six cars at the Broadway station.
Lalin got his right arm stuck in the gate and was dragged more than 100 feet along the platform, onto a lower surface near the tracks, according to the NTSB report. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“The NTSB has confirmed the MBTA’s initial assessment of a short circuit in the car’s wiring that allowed the train to start moving while Mr. Lalin was attempting to exit through the closing doors,” the MBTA statement said.
The MBTA inspected the doors of the other cars and found no similar problem.
“During rigorous testing, the issue with the incident car could not be duplicated in any of the other Red Line cars of the same make and model,” said T.
The railcar and train operator remain out of service.
The investigation is ongoing. So far, the NTSB has examined and tested train equipment, reviewed safety video, observed train operations, conducted interviews, and made sight distance observations.
The NTSB said Monday’s report is preliminary and subject to change.
“He was literally slaughtered to death, my uncle didn’t deserve that,” Kelvin Lalin, Robinson’s nephew, told CBS Boston. “We are grieving, my family is honestly devastated. And we are even more devastated after reading the report.”
Lalin’s family has been holding a vigil outside the Broadway station calling for justice, CBS Boston reported.
“This was a negligent situation that could have been avoided,” Kelvin Lalin said.
There have been other security issues with the MBTA in the last year. Nine people were injured in September when an escalator at the Back Bay station malfunctioned, and more than two dozen went to the hospital last July when a Green Line train rear-ended another streetcar.
The T statement said that security is a priority and that the agency has spent $8 billion in infrastructure and vehicle investments over the last five years and nearly doubled the size of its security department in the last three years.