Falling ceiling panel narrowly misses rider at subway stop

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A passenger narrowly missed getting struck when a large ceiling panel came crashing to the platform at a Boston-area subway station.

Surveillance video shows the passenger stopping short as the panel comes down at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Harvard Station in Cambridge shortly before 4 p.m. last Wednesday, sending up a cloud of dust. The passenger pauses, then walks around it and toward a staircase. The panels can weigh as much as 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms).

The aluminum panel fell about 10 feet (3 meters), MBTA interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville said at a Friday news conference.

“I am extremely thankful and relieved that there were no injuries as a result of this accident,” he said.

The MBTA removed about 10 other panels at the station, which has 400 to 500 of them in total. The panels date to 1978 and the one that fell was wet and showed signs of corrosion, he said. The panels do not affect the structural integrity of the station.

The agency is also inspecting other stations in the system with drop ceilings, although he noted that the design at Harvard is unique.

“We are utilizing all our resources to look into this issue, discover its cause, and implementing whatever solutions necessary to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

A 2021 safety inspection by outside engineers at the station found no visible defects with the panels, he said.

The incident remains under investigation.

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