Family of professor who died after falling through missing stairs near JFK/UMass sues MBTA, MassDOT

The wife of David Jones, the Boston University professor who died after falling through missing steps on a rickety stairway next to the JFK/UMass T stop, today formally blamed the MBTA and MassDOT for his death, in a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

In her suit, on behalf of herself and their three children, Sarah Sacuto of Milton says the T and the state let the public keep using the stairway from the station up to Old Colony Avenue even though they knew it was on the verge of collapse. Jones, a public-health professor, was headed up from the station level as part of a daily jog when he fell through a gap in the steps and then 20 feet to the ground on Sept. 13, 2021.

Sacuto charges that the two government bodies failed to either keep the stairway safe or to have blocked it and nearby sidewalk sections off and warned the public to stay away. Instead "the plaintiff's decedent was unwittingly both encouraged and permitted to access the dangers associated with the "subject staircase" and, as a direct and proximate results, caused to fall, sustain injury, suffer and death."

In the days following Jones' death, officials said the staircase had been blocked and posted with warnings 20 months earlier - with signs stating the steps would be repaired and re-opened in "Fall, 2020." Also in the days following his death, the MBTA, MassDOT and DCR could not agree on whose responsibility the stairway was. Finally, after several days, MassDOT workers removed the entire staircase.

In January, acting Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden said Jones's death was tragic but that, ultimately, there was nobody to blame criminally for Jones's death. Hayden's statement did not address how the bottom of the stairs were or were not blocked off.

Sacuto's complaint charges wrongful death, conscious pain and suffering and loss of consortium for herself and loss of consortium for her children.

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