MBTA fires trolley driver involved in December crash

The MBTA has fired a Mattapan Trolley driver who rear-ended another trolley car while looking at his phone in December, injuring 17 people and taking two of the vintage PCC cars out of commission.

An MBTA Transit Police affidavit filed in Dorchester District Court alleges Leroy Mattison, 42, of Malden, told authorities he reached into his backpack to “take a quick peek” at his phone and attempted to delete a posting he had left the night before on the website Reddit.com, the Boston Globe reported.

His trolley then collided with the PCC car in front of him, also traveling inbound to Ashmont inbound. The collision occurred on the tracks passing through the Cedar Grove Cemetery, where the other trolley’s driver had stopped to see if two stalled trains heading outbound to Mattapan needed assistance.

Mattison’s .40-caliber Smith and Wesson firearm was in his backpack on the trolley, the affidavit said. Authorities said the gun was loaded, the Globe reported.

Mattison gave the backpack to a woman after the crash and told her to bring it to the inspector’s office at Mattapan Station. According to the affidavit, Mattison would ordinarily have left his gun in his personal vehicle, but it was not working on the day of the crash.

“The MBTA is extremely disappointed with the alleged conduct of this former trolley operator, who jeopardized the safety of both customers and employees,” an MBTA statement said. “The MBTA has strict rules and policies to which all employees must adhere, and will not tolerate conduct that puts passengers at risk.”

Passengers treated suffered mostly minor injuries, MBTA officials said.

“Due to these allegations, this individual has been let go and will no longer operate any MBTA vehicles,” the statement continues. “We are grateful to Transit Police detectives who diligently pursued the facts in this matter and quickly sought criminal complaints against the defendant.”

Transit Police are seeking criminal charges against Mattison, who had worked for the T since 2001.

Charges include common carrier’s gross negligence, witness intimidation, and using a mobile phone while operating a public transport vehicle, the Globe said court records state. Mattison will also be charged with improper storage of a firearm in Malden District Court.

He has not yet been arraigned on any of the charges. A clerk magistrate hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14 to determine whether the case will go forward.