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Local News

April 29, 2011

College student injured in trolley crash files lawsuit

SALEM — A college student from Salem who was among the most seriously injured passengers in an MBTA trolley crash two years ago has filed suit against the T and the trolley operator, who was texting his girlfriend at the time.

Samantha Mattei was a 19-year-old Merrimack College freshman on her way into the city for a concert on the evening of May 8, 2009, when she boarded a Green Line trolley at Government Center.

Moments later, the trolley collided with another train stopped in the tunnel, a train the driver, Aiden Quinn, did not notice in time because he was sending a text message.

Mattei suffered a broken back, a severe concussion and lacerations to her face, injuries that are still causing her problems nearly two years later, and which likely will have lifelong consequences, her parents said yesterday.

"This has caused major problems for my daughter," Cecile Mattei said.

Mattei, now 21, who once hoped to become a doctor or a research scientist, will have to leave school again and take another semester off this fall, her parents said yesterday, because she is still suffering the effects of her injuries.

She has had to cope with constant headaches, vertigo, dizziness, nausea and fainting spells, including one that caused her to fall down a flight of stairs at a dorm. She is now required by the college to have an escort with her, her father said.

Mattei has also suffered from recurring pain from her back injury, including nerve pain, and still has to use a cane.

"She's 21 years old, and she has to be carted around by her parents because she can't drive," said her mother.

Her father, Fred Mattei, said he's spent at least $30,000 on copayments and deductibles so far.

And the family fears that their daughter, who struggles to keep up with her coursework as a chemistry major, could lose her scholarships.

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