Newly released surveillance video shows a Boston University professor climbing up the dilapidated staircase near an MBTA station where he fell to his death last fall, in a case has sparked questions about the care and maintenance of crumbling infrastructure on state property.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office this week released surveillance video and accident scene photos showing David K. Jones, 40, running along a street near the JFK/UMass station in Dorchester Sept. 11 before climbing up the stairs.
The clips do not show how Jones stepped past the fencing intended to keep the public off the stairs, though photos taken after the accident show a gap between the fencing and the stairwell and no signs announcing the closure. The cameras also do not capture whether he fell through a gap where the stairs were already missing or steps collapsed underneath him.
But the metal structure, which sits outside the busy stop on the Red Line and commuter rail, had been rusting for months and were missing several steps near the top long before the accident occurred, earlier photos have shown. The stairs themselves had been closed off since January 2020 with fencing, officials said at the time.
Jones’ death was ruled an accident, but Darin Colucci, a lawyer representing the Jones family, said questions still remain in Jones’ death and who was responsible.
“You can’t have a staircase that someone can access so easily that can collapse under the weight of a normal human being,” Colucci said. “Someone is at fault.”
Officials knew for more than a year that the structure was in unusable and dangerous condition, Colucci added. “They waited for this tragedy to happen before anyone took any action, and now that family is without a husband and without a dad.”
Issues with the staircase had been flagged repeatedly for 20 months after the structure was first closed off, according to emails released late last year, though records show state officials were slow to act on multiple warnings about their deteriorating condition.
After Jones’ death, state agencies also struggled to clarify which entity was responsible for the structure, which sits near MBTA property but was in the care and custody of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation after property bordering the structure was transferred from the state’s parks department.
Almost immediately after the accident, transportation officials issued an emergency work order to finally remove the staircase, 20 months after they had first been closed, and demolished the structure the following weekend.
The sudden death of the popular public health professor had also prompted investigations by both the State Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney into how the Boston University professor was able to access the closed-off staircase.
The DA’s office last month announced it would not file criminal charges in the professor’s death.
“Any death is a tragedy and his family, loved ones, students, and colleagues continue to mourn his untimely passing,” District Attorney Kevin R. Hayden said in a statement released at the time. “Based on a thorough and careful review of the evidence, however, we have determined that criminal charges are not warranted in connection with Dr. Jones’ death.”
Taylor Dolven of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Elizabeth Koh can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @elizabethrkoh.