Investigators reenact T crash as friends, family mourn driver

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Emily A. Canal, Globe Correspondent and Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / June 2, 2008

NEWTON - While investigators were busy reenacting Wednesday's deadly MBTA crash last night, more than 300 people were gathered nearby to remember the young operator who lost her life.

Behind a collection of parked trains in an empty parking lot at the Riverside T stop, a group of 350 people dressed in black and in MBTA uniforms congregated to remember Terrese Edmonds, 24, who was killed when the train she was operating rammed into the back of another train.

"Her joy was to be with her family and baby-sit her friends' children," said Terry Jones, 46, Edmonds's father, as he consoled a weeping friend in his arms. "We would go fishing and camping together and she loved visiting her grandmother in Pennsylvania."

Friends, family, and T employees held white candles and wore white T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of Edmonds's face as they listened to the vigil with the hum of the tracks behind them.

"She was a sweetheart," said Daron Banks, assistant minister of the Morning Star Church in Mattapan, who led the service. "She stood out from others with her smile and strong personal spirit," said Banks, who is also a bus operator at the T's Cabot Garage in South Boston. The service, organized by co-workers and family, began at 5 p.m. and lasted about an hour.

"I didn't know her personally, but I feel like I have a connection with her as a representative of the school," said Stephanie Janey, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at Roxbury Community College, where Edmonds was enrolled. "It was a nice touch when dispatch called for a moment of silence over the Green Line."

According to friends, all MBTA vehicles today will display Edmonds's name and badge number, 69129, on their electronic banners.

"This really shows the support of fellow co-workers," said Patricia Woods, a bus operator for the Cabot Garage. "We are all family feeling this. This is devastating, we are all like brothers and sisters."

Woods also said the MBTA was providing grief counseling for employees.

Maxine Bell, 38, an inspector on the Green Line, said, "She was a very friendly person and talked to everyone."

MBTA officials at the service declined to comment.

"I think the service went smoothly and it was a blessing to be here and able to do this," Banks said. "She will always be remembered as warm and welcoming with a great smile."

Investigators completed a partial reenactment of the crash last night, which was timed near 6 p.m. so they could experience the lighting conditions as Edmonds would have seen them Wednesday during rush hour, said Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. The simulation was meant to test how difficult it would have been to avert a crash and whether visibility played a role.

Knudson declined to comment on any results from the tests.

Inspectors first stationed a trolley at the crash site and approached it from behind as Edmonds did so they could mark the spot where she could have first spotted the train in front of her.

They then removed the front trolley and measured how quickly the brakes could have stopped Edmonds's train if she had applied them. Investigators held that test at different speeds: 10 miles per hour, the speed Edmonds should have been traveling by rule; and 37 or 38 miles per hour, her actual speed prior to the crash.

David Abel of the Globe staff contributed to this story.

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