East Bay News

NTSB: BART operator was 'training' during accident

Monday, October 21, 2013
Details emerge about BART train accident BART train. Federal investigators will begin interviewing everyone who was on the train that fatally struck two BART workers on Saturday. NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Jim Southworth NTSB investigating deaths of BART workers Officials say two BART employees were fatally struck by a maintenance train between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations. BART workers  mourn loss of colleagues

The BART strike took a tragic turn over the weekend after a BART train killed two workers doing maintenance on the tracks.

The lead investigator for National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the driver of the BART train that fatally struck two workers was an operator in training. Five other people were on the out-of-service train, including a trainer, another trainee and three workers on maintenance duties.

The NTSB won't say whether the BART employee who was at the controls is a manager and whether he was learning to operate the train in the event of a prolonged strike. They're only confirming that he was in fact training when he hit a BART employee and a contractor inspecting the tracks.

The NTSB team arrived Sunday and immediately went to work. They also confirmed the train was in auto-mode at the time of the impact and it was traveling between 60-70 miles per hour. In addition, the operator was notified that there were people on the tracks.

"There is a system in place on BART to where they will announce, over that system, where people are out on the right of way. And we've just begun to gather that data and what the announcement was, when it went out," said NTSB investigator James Southworth.

One victim was 58-year-old Chris Sheppard of Hayward who was a member of one of the unions that wasn't on strike. The other victim was 66-year-old Larry Daniels of Oakland.

The NTSB will look at the work rules that are in place, including protocols that are supposed to be used when someone is inspecting the tracks. They will determine whether those procedures were followed in full and plan to a reenactment of the crash.

Daniels also had a home near Sacramento and on Monday night his neighbors spoke about him.

"I couldn't believe it. It just doesn't seem possible because Larry was so analytical, so careful," said Sharan Fleming, Daniels' neighbor.

"One second he was OK doing what he really loved to do, which was being around trains and working on trains and such, and the next second he's gone," said Roger Greene, Daniels' neighbor.

Daniels worked as a contractor for BART. His work took him to railroads all around the world.

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BART, walnut creek, pleasant hill, NTSB, unions, east bay news
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