Runaway Pittsburgh Trolley Injures 37

Associated Press

A trolley carrying dozens of commuters slammed into an office building after losing its brakes Wednesday, injuring 37 people, four of them seriously, authorities said.

"You could hear it screeching and then, 'Wham. Bam. Bam.' The whole building shook," said Karen Lane, 23, a receptionist who had just arrived at work.

The streetcar's brakes failed as it was going downhill through a tunnel. The driver ordered the passengers to the back of the trolley as it picked up speed.

The streetcar sideswiped a city bus and a truck, ripped out a utility pole and fire hydrant then slammed into the Gatehouse, a six-story, brick office building.

Mike Scanlon, the transit authority's director of operations, said all three braking systems apparently failed: the drum brakes on the wheels, the rail brake in which a metal bar scrapes against the tracks and the "dynamic" system in which the traction motors are used to slow the car.

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