Amtrak Sued by Injured Conductors and Passengers After Train Derailment
The tragic Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia has left eight people dead and over 200 people sent to the hospital.
The conductor of Train 188 is suing Amtrak for negligence. The train was on time on its trip from Washington to New York, carrying 238 passengers and 5 crew members. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the derailment was Amtrak’s 9th this year. Amtrak isn’t the only company, there were 35 derailments on a main railway in a single month, in January 2014.
The injured conductor, Emilio Fonesca, 33, was using the restroom in the first car, during his work shift, when the train went off the rails. Fonesca is among 5 people still in critical condition, and is predicted to remain there for the next several weeks. He is said to be the most injured Amtrak employee in the Amtrak derailment, suffering from a broken neck, back and both shoulders. Fonesca is the second employee involved in the train derailment that has filed a lawsuit against Amtrak, claiming negligence and asking for unspecified damages. He crawled, severely wounded, through the wreckage into a field, immediately warning injured and stunned passengers to not step on the electrified wires that had fallen to the ground due to the crash. He cautioned people until he was taken away from the scene by paramedics. Bruce Nagel, Fonesca’s attorney stated, “In a lot of ways, Mr. Fonseca is a hero,” Nagel said. “He was there with a broken back, broken neck, broken shoulders and he managed to continue to warn passengers to be careful of the live electrical wires that were all around the train wreck.”
The cause of the train accelerating from 70 mph to 106 mph, seconds before the crash, is still unknown and under investigation. Matthew L. Wald, Transportation analyst, said the area where the train derailed Tuesday has had problems, calling it “an extremely heavily used stretch of track.” While acknowledging some rails need to be replaced and curves are worn. The tracks condition, as well as, technology involved have raised questions on how this accident could have been avoided. It is noted that the area of the Philadelphia derailment did not have Positive Train Control, an automated speed control system that could have overridden human errors and slowed the train down.
The train’s engineer, Brandon Bostian, 32, is an Amtrak veteran, working for the train company for 5 years. He cannot remember what happened before the crash due to injuries he sustained, however, Bostian was able to pull the emergency brakes “just moments” before the crash, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Investigators are considering many options of what could have caused this crash. Speed and track condition may have been the leading factors, followed by human error, or the trains mechanical condition. Technology indicates the a possible collision with another train could not have been the cause. In this case, it is likely that the derailment was caused by a lack of technology to override human error and the condition of the tracks. Trains are equipped with event data recorders, also known as, “black boxes,” that will officially determine its speed. Mayor Michael Nutter said the train’s recorder was recovered and sent for analysis, along with the train’s forward-facing cameras. This technology will help to determine what caused the crash, and who is at fault.