Surveillance video shows moment corroded utility box broke loose, fell on woman at MBTA station

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A corroded utility box that broke loose and crashed down on a woman at an MBTA station was installed more than a decade ago as part of a now-defunct biological agent detection system, officials announced Tuesday.

Emergency crews responding to the Harvard Square Red Line station around 4:30 p.m. Monday found a woman on the platform who had been hit by a large piece of equipment, later determined to be the utility box’s supporting brace, according to the MBTA. Officials on the scene estimated that it weighed about 200 pounds in total.

The area was immediately cordoned off and an investigation into the incident determined that the utility box had corroded support straps, Transit officials said.

Officials also noted that the box was installed as part of a 2011 pilot program led by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and funded by the Department of Homeland Security, to house sensors capable of detecting and identifying biological agents.

“The boxes have served no purpose since the pilot program ended in 2013,” a T spokesperson said in a statement.

In response to the incident, MBTA General Manager Phillip Eng initiated the inspection of support straps at all Red Line stations and ordered crews to remove a total of 13 remaining utility boxes at Harvard, Porter, and Davis stations.

“General Manager Phil Eng personally visited the site and directed that every station be immediately inspected for the presence of these boxes and the condition of the support straps to ensure that they do not pose any hazard,” the spokesman explained.

A newly released surveillance video captured the moment the box fell on the woman. She appeared to immediately reach for her face.

The woman was transported to a nearby hospital for the treatment of minor injuries. The T said that Eng has since reached out to her.

The T called the incident an “isolated case” and vowed to have all inspections completed by the end of Tuesday.

Fellow riders that Boston 25 spoke with were outraged over the incident, especially given the fact that a ceiling panel came crashing down in the same station in March, nearly hitting a commuter.

In response to that incident, the MBTA replaced 76 aging ceiling panels.

“I think it’s unconscionable. I think it’s absolutely deplorable there’s no excuse for it,” said MBTA rider Paul Grover. Rider Jeff Wilson added, I think it points to the structural deficiencies of the T.. it seems like they need to invest more to keep it safe for everybody.”

Inspections are also slated for the T’s other subway lines.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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