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August 07, 2023

Motorist in trolley collision was an off-duty SEPTA worker and allegedly driving under the influence, police say

Brianna Satchell-Thomas crashed her car into the trolley on Sunday morning, injuring four passengers, investigators said

Investigations SEPTA
SEPTA trolley crash DUI THOM CARROLL/for PhillyVoice

Brianna Satchell-Thomas, an off-duty SEPTA worker, allegedly was driving under the influence when her car crashed into a SEPTA trolley on Sunday morning in West Philly, police say. The image above is a file photo.

An off-duty SEPTA employee was behind the wheel of the car that ran a red light and crashed into a trolley in Kingsessing on Sunday morning, police said.

Brianna Satchell-Thomas, 31, a SEPTA maintenance custodian from King of Prussia, allegedly was driving under the influence when her car collided with the trolley at 52nd Street and Chester Avenue, causing the trolley to derail, a Philadelphia police spokesperson said Monday. Four trolley riders were injured.

Satchell-Thomas allegedly fled the scene initially, but returned shortly, according to a police report. She was taken into custody and brought to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania-Cedar Avenue, where she was treated for a laceration, before being transferred to the police detention unit. 

She was charged with aggravated assault, driving under the influence and related charges, police said. 

Satchell-Thomas was not working or driving to or from her job when the crash happened, a SEPTA spokesperson told the Inquirer

Sunday's crash was the seventh involving a SEPTA vehicle this summer. 

Last month, a trolley in Southwest Philly derailed after rolling out of a depot with no one at the controls, crashing into an SUV and damaging an historic, Revolutionary-era building. Before that, there was a deadly SEPTA bus collision in Northeast Philadelphia, a trolley collision in Upper Darby, and SEPTA bus crashes in Fishtown and Center City. Last week, another trolley collision in West Philadelphia led to a multi-car pileup that damaged several vehicles at 52nd Street and Lancaster Avenue. 

SEPTA has responded to the string of crashes by vowing to investigate the incidents and examine its staffing levels and policies. 

"We know that incidents like these shake the public's confidence in SEPTA," the agency's board said in a July 28th statement. "We have stressed to executive staff that they need to be transparent with the public about the findings of these investigations."