Monday, 22 Apr 2024

25lb ceiling panel comes down at Harvard subway station missing rider

Close call! Moment 25lb ceiling panel crashes down at Harvard subway station – narrowly missing a stunned commuter

  • A large ceiling panel fell onto the platform at Harvard subway station near Boston, narrowly missing a passenger
  • Incident occurred just before 4 pm last Wednesday and was captured on surveillance video 
  • Footage sees the passenger stopping suddenly as the panel fell inches in front of them, causing a cloud of dust –  other commuters didn’t seem to notice incident 

A passenger narrowly missed getting struck when a large ceiling panel came crashing down onto the platform at a Boston-area subway station.

Surveillance video shows the passenger stopping short as the panel came down from the roof in front of them at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Harvard Station in Cambridge.

An alternative angle then shows commuter looking up at the ceiling in shock as they try to understand what happened and how lucky they came to being seriously hurt. 

Video sees the panel come down inches from the startled passenger who stops in their tracks. The commuter pauses, then walks around it and toward a staircase.

Fellow passengers either didn’t see what had happened or hear anything as they could be seen continuing to go about their business including boarding a waiting subway train.

A large ceiling panel fell onto the platform at Harvard subway station near Boston, narrowly missing a passenger

By sheer luck, the panel came down in between a couple walking up the stairs and another commuter

The panel crashed down in between a couple walking up the stairs and another commuter

Footage sees the passenger stopping suddenly as the panel fell inches in front of them, leaving them shrouded in a cloud of black dust 


The commuter is walking along the platform when the panel suddenly came lose, right

The incident occurred shortly before 4pm last Wednesday, sending up a cloud of dust. 

The aluminum panels normally weight about 5 pounds, but this one had become waterlogged causing to weigh as much as 25 pounds.

The panel fell about 10 feet, MBTA interim General Manager Jeff Gonneville said at a 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 commuter looked up in a state of shock after what had occurred directly in front of them

The passenger then decided to make their way around the ceiling panel

The MBTA quickly closed the area while engineers inspected panels  and removed any that posed an immediate safety concern

The aluminum panels normally weight about 5 pounds, but the one that fell had become waterlogged causing to weigh as much as 25 pounds

Over time water had accumulated in the panel insulation and corroded the metal rivets holding it in place

‘Our initial findings show that over time water had accumulated in the panel insulation & corroded the metal rivets holding it in place. We’re removing the remaining non-structural panels as a precaution & so we can thoroughly investigate the ceiling & source of water intrusion,’ the MBTA wrote in a tweet.

The panels date back to 1978 and the one that fell was wet and showed signs of corrosion, Gonneville explained. The suspended panels do not affect the structural integrity of the station and are used for aesthetics and soundproofing.

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

The panels were installed in 1978. The non-structural panels are suspended from the ceiling and used for aesthetics & soundproofing

The remaining non-structural panels were removed as a precaution in order for the source of the water to be determined

‘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, the General Manager said.

The incident remains under investigation.

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