Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Harvard Square MBTA station. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Red line subway services were disrupted for more than five hours Sunday after the MBTA reported a person was under a train at Harvard Station.

The death was a woman in her 30s who committed suicide, according to an MBTA worker with knowledge of the situation whose information was passed along. The body was reportedly at the lower, inbound, platform and toward the rear of the station.

Meanwhile, an email to three spokespeople for the Department of Transportation and Transit Police sent shortly after the initial report of a problem went unanswered despite promises after an August suicide to provide “more expeditious” information. There was no information offered by Transit Police on their Twitter feed or website about whether the death may have been accidental or if it was being investigated.

On Monday, the Universal Hub news aggregator cited Transit Police as saying the victim was a man, but without attribution. The information does not appear elsewhere online. (Update on March 14, 2022: The information was later changed to say “person.”)

This was the first local suicide by train in 2022. The MBTA source said they’d handled six suicides by train themselves in the past year, though there were more in which they hadn’t been involved. Sunday’s was gruesome, and medical examiners called it “the worst” they had seen, according to the source.

A Cambridge bus stop on Sunday, when the MBTA red line was shut down. (Photo: James Williamson)

The death was reported at 5:23 p.m. in an MBTA advisory that shuttle buses would replace the disrupted T service – first between Harvard and Alewife, then between Alewife and Park Street in Boston. But riders said buses came infrequently to bus stops clogged with snow after a Saturday storm. One person telling officials of a two-hour wait in temperatures dipping below 20 degrees and another at Kendall complaining of a 90-minute wait for an Alewife-bound bus. “I’ve already walked to the [No. 1 bus] so I don’t freeze to death, but I’ll let other people in the replies tell you that the buses still haven’t come,” a Twitter use identified as John Pulice told the T.

Regularly scheduled service resumed at 10:38 p.m., the T said.

The Transit Police has been asked repeatedly since two deaths in August 2020 about the frequency of suicides on MBTA property and what efforts the T takes to prevent them, but has not replied.


If you or someone you know needs immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “home” to 741 741.