Chicago Commuter Train Operator Admits Role in Crash at O’Hare

on 03/24/2014

The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O’Hare International Airport acknowledged she dozed off before the accident and only woke up as the eight-car train hit a platform. The 3 a.m. accident injured more than 30 people. The public transportation system is the nation’s second largest; the operator had been running trains for only two months. UPDATE: A transit authority spokeswoman announced the April 5, 2014, termination of the operator.  The primary reason was termination was the severity of the accident. 

As investigators were looking into the cause of the crash, the operator admitted she also overshot a station platform a month before the accident. At that point, she partially missed a station after closing “her eyes for a moment” and only one car passed the station. The supervisor’s reprimand for the incident was the only step required under the local agency’s disciplinary guidelines.

The operator told investigators she had an erratic schedule and her hours varied from one day to the next. A union representative said the operator was exhausted from recent overtime.

Investigators are also looking closely at the backup emergency braking system that failed to stop it from plowing onward. The triggering mechanism may not be located far enough back to stop the train approaching the station at a normal speed.

Damage to the equipment is estimated at $6 million; there is no estimate for damage to the station. The images released by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed battered cars and shredded escalator machinery.

These types of accidents highlight the danger of public transportation systems not following reasonable standards of care for the amount of time their employees operate heavy machinery and equipment. Placing public safety at risk by overworking employees or not following federal regulations is often a cost-savings technique used by companies mitigated the cost of litigation as less than the profit gained.

The attorneys of Watts Guerra have entered into litigation against these types of companies on behalf of injured clients. If a negligent company has caused injury to you or someone you love, please contact Watts Guerra.

Tags: Personal Injury, Illinois

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