Runaway Boston Train Operator Fired

David Vazquez had been placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension just a day earlier

The operator of the runaway MBTA train has been fired, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

David Vazquez, 53, had been placed on a 30-day unpaid suspension, pending discharge, following an interview and disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. Officials confirmed Wednesday that he was no longer an employee of the MBTA.

A union official said at the time that the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was the only one who could rule on the termination, and that decision could come any time during the suspension.

Vazquez's attorney, Phillip Gordon, explained to necn how the train left the Braintree station without its operator.

"You have an operational train in a tunnel that's on, full of passengers. And the only guy on that train is told to get off the train to disable one of the safety features that's holding that train in place. And that train rolls," Gordon said. "It's terrifying."

Gordon says he does not understand why Vazquez has been fired before the investigation into what happened was completed and before his client had a chance to tell his side of the story.

"It's not for cost saving measures. He's already on suspension without pay. So what's the purpose, and how did they come to the conclusion that he should be terminated today?" the attorney asked.

Gordon adds no one is taking this harder than Vazquez, who is physically ill because of the pressure.

"Sunday night, he had to go to the hospital. As you can imagine, his blood pressure through the roof. Very, very difficult time," Gordon said. "You're talking about a man who cares deeply about his passengers, deeply about his colleagues. He's known as 'Diamond Dave' on the Red Line and a lot of folks really love him. He's highly regarded."

Officials are still trying to figure out whether or not the train operator used a cord to tie the so-called "dead man's switch," which is a fail safe that typically brings the train to a stop. Tying it down is a safety violation. Vazquez says he didn't do that.

State officials are also looking at whether it's a systemic issue within the MBTA.

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