Danger on the Tracks
Hank Investigates: Danger on the Tracks
"If there's someone running in front of your moving train, can you possibly stop?"
Dan Lauzon, Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers
"I would say the answer is, 99 percent of the time, I cannot stop."
So far this year, 12 people were killed or injured trespassing on the tracks. Experts say there's trouble on the tracks.
- Fred Fraini, Operation Lifesaver
"There is a trespass problem in the Commonwealth. There's no question in my mind."
Our investigation found station after station where commuters consistently are able to trespass, using risky shortcuts that could turn into tragedy.
- Bart Beausoleil, Victim's Father
"I lost my wife. My whole family lost."
Internal documents we obtained prove in 1996 the T knew that was a dangerous crossing. Amtrak officials had even warned the T of constant trespassers and suggested changes. But nothing happened -- not even when a man was killed.
A year later, in 1998, Danielle Beausoleil crossed the same tracks and was hit by an oncoming train.
"How soon after your daughter was hurt did they fix that problem?"
"A week after my daughter's accident, she was still in the hospital. They had the problem solved."
We found there are other dangerous crossings, stations where engineer Dan Lauzon says he sees commuters risk their lives every day.
"Are there stations where you know people are going to be trespassing across the tracks?"
He pointed us to Belmont, where there's no fence to prevent commuters from coming out of the woods to cross the tracks.
- Dan Lauzon
"I think the big thing to do is make it as difficult as possible for people to put themselves in harm's way."
In Framingham, passengers can easily cut the tracks. In Beverly and West Gloucester, ungated walkways let commuters dash across the tracks at the last minute.
"Would you say the stations are as safe as they can be?"
As trespass deaths increased, the T created a safety task force. But its internal minutes we obtained show in two years, safety concerns at only a handful of stations were addressed.
In Sharon and in Mansfield, they put grease on fences to stop commuters from climbing over.
Attleboro commuters can no longer cut through the fence where Danielle died.
But problems at the stations we staked out were news to the T.
- Jim Brown, Chief Of MBTA Safety
"These are areas that we're obviously going to take a look at and maybe put on the list of improvements."
As for enforcement, though 750,000 people ride the T every day, in the last 18 months, T police arrested just 470 trespassers.
But even those who get caught are hardly punished. We found trespassers can be fined up to $200.
"In your experience, how often does the judge actually impose that fine?"
The MBTA insists safety is its highest priority. It eliminates dangerous situations as soon as it can. But Danielle's family says sometimes that's just not enough.
- Cindy Beausoleil, Victim's Mother
"I did not expect her to walk out the door and not see her come back in the door."