Man Killed in Metrolink Accident

Monday, September 10, 2012

Since the 2008 Chatsworth disaster, safety incidents involving Metrolink trains never fail to find a spot in media coverage. A man was recently killed in an accident involving a Metrolink train near Santa Clarita station.

The man was allegedly hit by train number 209 near Reuther Avenue and Golden Triangle Road. There is no information on how the man got on the tracks, or what caused the accident.

However, no Los Angeles train accident attorney would ignore the fact that this was the 2nd accident involving a Metrolink train in recent weeks. Just last month, 2 people were injured in an accident involving a Metrolink commuter train and a tractor-trailer.

In that accident, the train was on its way eastbound from the Oxnard Station Terminal, when it struck a flatbed trailer. The driver of the truck and a male passenger suffered injuries, and had to be taken to the hospital. A woman on the train also suffered injuries. The accident also led to a minor oil spill from the tractor-trailer, but environmental crews were able to contain the damage quickly.The truck in that accident appears to have been on the tracks at the time of accident. However, as any Los Angeles train accident lawyer knows, it is not always easy to gauge the speed of an approaching train.

Metrolink's passenger safety record was effectively downsized on September 12, 2008, after the Chatsworth train accident. In that accident, a commuter train crashed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train, killing 25 people and injuring more than 100 others. Some of the victims of that accident are still suffering the long-term consequences of those injuries. It was the worst train accident in the United States in recent history, and since then, Metrolink has undergone a safety overhaul. But concerns about the rail system remain.

Another Tragic Train Accident

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Two nineteen year old college students were killed in the early hours of Tuesday, August 21 when a CSX train derailed in Ellicott City, Maryland. Elizabeth Nassand Rose Mayr were sitting on a rail bridge when a catastrophic failure occurred causing the massive freight train to derail and spill thousands of tons of coal. Tweets from the two friends indicate that they were nearby when the accident occurred. The worst was confirmed when their bodies were found beneath mounds of coal.  

According to preliminary reports and an article in the Washington Post (“In Maryland train deaths, more questions than answers”), the train’s central brake system experienced a failure. As the train approached a dramatic turn over the bridge, the brake line connecting all of the cars failed. This failure triggered the brakes on each car to then engage. As the train traveled at approximately 25 miles per hour over the bridge, the massive derailment occurred. The train’s conductor and two engineers say that they noticed nothing out of the ordinary until the automatic brake system began to engage.   

Investigators from the NTSB have been diligently studying the scene for an explanation for how this happened. The tracks, the train, the operators and the companies that oversee each element of the scene will be placed under scrutiny to explain the accident. More importantly than determining why a train would derail is discovering how the two girls could have gained access to the bridge. This will also have to be determined and may influence lawsuits against responsible parties. 

Train accidents in the United States during 2012 have been responsible for multiple deaths in Missouri, Illinois, and now Maryland. Injuries to railroad workers, train passengers, automobile drivers, and pedestrians also happen throughout the country as the result of train accidents. Not all fatalities and injuries are caused by derailment but many of them could have been prevented with greater safety measures in place. Whether that is the case in Maryland remains to be seen.  

Train Accidents Wreak Havoc in Nation’s Heartland

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

On the fourth of July, a couple in Glenview Illinois were killed when a freight train derailed, caused an overpass to collapse, and crushed the car they were traveling in. The Lindner’s bodies—a married couple both near 70 years old—were taken from the crash site after crews spent nearly 17 hours digging through debris. A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the couple’s family. It alleges that Union Pacific was negligent in their maintenance of the track on the overpass. This is not the only major train accident to occur recently. 

On Wednesday July 11, a Norfolk Southern train in Columbus, Ohio derailed. Nearly 100 people were asked to evacuate their homes as dangerous gas on derailed train cars continued to burn. Two people were injured. 

In Oklahoma, a recent head on collision between Union Pacific freight trains led to the deaths of three people and more than $15 million dollars of property damage. The NTSB report on the cause of the crash may take up to a year. 

Freight trains are not the only trains involved in accidents recently either. In 2011, an Amtrak train in Nevada was involved in a crash that caused the death of its conductor, a truck driver, and injured at least 100 passengers. The conductor’s family and three of the injured passengers have lawsuits pending. The suits allege that the crossing gates came down late or not at all, allowing a truck to drive onto the tracks leading to the deadly crash. The railroad company and Nevada Department of Transportation are being accused of not providing enough safety precautions at the Northern Nevada crossing. 

With plans to build a high-speed rail from Los Angeles to California in the works, there is the possibility that rail accidents involving passenger trains may increase in the coming years. Furthermore, with little hope for a speedy resolution to the nation’s economic woes, agencies tasked with overseeing freight and passenger train safety may continue to face lawsuits as state, federal, and local agencies seek to manage daily expenses in increasingly tight fiscal environments. Less oversight and more “efficiency” may lead to more train accidents in the coming years. 


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