Texting Trolley Driver Could Face Charges

Sources say Boston crash driver had three speeding tickets in recent years.

May 11, 2009, 7:28 PM

BOSTON, May 11, 2009— -- The Boston-area transit authority trolley driver who allegedly slammed into another train while text-messaging his girlfriend Friday had three speeding tickets on his driving record in recent years and could face criminal charges.

Aiden Quinn, 24, received the three speeding tickets in his private vehicle, two in New Hampshire in April 2007, and one in Massachusetts in 2002, sources told ABC News.

Quinn, who was hired as a minority because of his transgendered "female-to-male" status, was born Georgia Quinn and boasts on an Internet networking site that he was one of the first transgender hires by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, sources said.

The trolley driver lists his sexual orientation as "FTM" and was hired as a minority using his transgender status, two sources told ABC News.

"[Quinn] was initially hired as a minority and used her transgender status,'' an MBTA source said today.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo told ABC News today that there was "nothing unusual" about Quinn's hire, and that he was picked out of a lottery that he entered in 2004.

The Green Line trolley Quinn was driving rear-ended another trolley that was stopped between two underground stations in downtown Boston on Friday night, injuring 46 people, and he told police he was texting at the time of the crash, officials said.

Three of four trolley cars were crushed and MBTA officials estimated the cost of damages from the crash at $9.6 million.

Formerly a part-time trolley driver, Quinn was hired as a full-time trolley operator from a streetcar motorman in March.

Quinn did not show up for a scheduled meeting Sunday between MBTA officials and National Transportation Safety Board investigators, claiming that he was sick, Pesaturo said.

Quinn could face criminal charges.

He will be fired later this week if investigators verify that he was using his cellular phone before the crash, MBTA general manager Daniel Grabauskas said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Boston-area transit authority said Saturday he'll ban all train and bus operators from even carrying cell phones.

Federal investigators have said the crash was not caused by mechanical problems, but was a result of the operator running through a red light and a yellow light before the collision.

"Then the train encountered a yellow signal and a red signal. The point ofcollision occurred 80 feet past the red signal," NTSB board member DebbieHersman told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB.

Officials said the trolley Quinn was driving was traveling at 25 mph when it hit thewaiting train. They said it was not clear whether Quinn was braking, but if he wasn't, the idling train would have been visible for at least 13 seconds before it was struck.

The waiting trolley was pushed 31 feet down the tracks after it was struck, officials said.

Boston Carmen's Union president Stephen Macdougall told WCVB the preventable accident does not reflect the behavior of most MBTA workers.

"The individual involved in last night's incident and the issues led up to that tragedy were avoidable," he said. "This was an individual act by an individual who does not represent the attitudes or the professional conduct of all or most MBTA workers."

If it turns out to be true that Quinn was texting his girlfriend at the time of the crash, he would be at least the 10th driver guilty of the offense in the last year.

At least nine other bus and trolley drivers have been suspended in the last yearfor texting or talking on their cell phones while driving.

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