News


Operator of BART train that killed 2 in training

Train was moving in automatic mode at 60-70 mph

The operator of a BART train that struck and killed two workers near the Walnut Creek station on Saturday was in training, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator has confirmed.

NTSB investigators spent Monday conducting extensive interviews with four BART employees including the train operator, his supervisor and a

BART dispatcher to try to piece together what caused the accident that killed 66-year-old Laurence Daniels and 58-year-old Christopher Sheppard, NTSB lead investigator Jim Southworth said at a news conference.

The train was running without passengers for training and maintenance during the second day of a strike by BART's two largest unions, Southworth said. Sheppard and Daniels were investigating a report of a dip in the tracks on the Pittsburg-Bay Point line, according to BART.

The two were struck shortly before 2 p.m. Saturday about a mile north of the Walnut Creek station.

Daniels, an Oakland resident, was a contractor working with BART. Sheppard lived in Hayward and was a member of American Federation of State,

County and Municipal Employees Local 3993. That union, which was not striking, represents about 210 BART employees, mostly middle managers.

Southworth said preliminary information suggests that the train was moving at about 60 or 70 mph and that the operator, who has held other

positions with BART and was in training to be certified as a train operator, had the train in automatic mode. Southworth did not elaborate on what positions or prior training the operator had.

There were six employees on the train at the time of the accident -- two were being trained as train operators, one was training them, and three more were doing troubleshooting and maintenance work, Southworth said.

None of those employees was hurt.

During the ongoing investigation, expected to last for weeks or months, NTSB investigators will ship recordings related to the accident back to their Washington, D.C., offices. A re-enactment of the collision is scheduled for today, as are interviews with BART management, Southworth said.

BART officials initially issued a statement on Saturday saying an experienced operator was at the controls of the train but that it was operating in automatic mode.

However, BART assistant general manager Paul Oversier later partially retreated from that statement, saying he did not yet know who was

at the controls when the accident happened.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Guest
a resident of Dublin
on Oct 22, 2013 at 5:06 pm

"...was in training to be certified as a train operator...", Actually he could not be certified as the Train Operator Employee Development Specialists who conduct the 16 week training class and the On-the-Job-Instructors who supplement the teaching were all on strike.
(Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chicago proud
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

@"BART officials initially issued a statement on Saturday saying an experienced operator was at the controls of the train but that it was operating in automatic mode.
However, BART assistant general manager Paul Oversier later partially retreated from that statement, saying he did not yet know who was
at the controls when the accident happened."

(Comment removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)
But here's the point, folks. The train was on automatic pilot. So how can we blame anyone? It's like when someone is driving a car on 'cruise control'. If the car hits an unlucky pedestrian, we can't really blame the driver of the car, can we? Now, I'm not saying the car was at fault. Nor am I commenting on whether the driver driving the car on 'cruise control' is qualified or not to be the driver. I'm simply dealing with facts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yup
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Put the government in charge of everything. They do a great job!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm

What's truly tragic is that two human beings lost their lives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Guest
a resident of Dublin
on Oct 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

In response to Chicago Proud, as far as available options, in the past real Train Operators have stopped their train before getting that close and told Central Control that they will need to proceed in Manual Mode. These sort of safety calls has led to harassment by some managers because it causes delays. Union Stewards have bluntly responded,"Charge the Train Operator with a violation or apologize."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chicago proud
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2013 at 8:46 pm

@Guest,

I grew up in Chicago and witnessed all kinds of union strong arm tactics such as "Charge the train operator with a violation or else apologize." This is an example of the herd mentality at work, because unions are against freedom.

You may be new to these posts. When someone makes a flagrant accusatory charge, I and the editors have demanded that you offer a link. Otherwise, you may expect to have your inappropriate, unsubstantiated, and irrelevant post censored into oblivion where it belongs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Guest
a resident of Dublin
on Oct 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

In response to Chicago Proud. The information was not meant to be accusatory only enlightening. Pleasanton Weekly could verify the information directly with Ass't General Manager Paul Oversier by asking direct closed ended questions. Such as," Did The manager involved earn $140,000 a year?" (I excluded benefits and used the contra costa times database as a source.)"Did Mr. Oversier know the manager involved before he worked for BART?" "Did the manager's certification to be a train operator expire more than a decade ago?" "Is it true that he was never a Certified Employee Development Specialist?" The point is if this tragedy is covered up it will be allowed to happen again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2013 at 8:23 am

A previously removed post from one of the BART topics suggested that the driver in training is named mike cherry. The union didn't want his name revealed because he belongs to the one union not involved in the strike. You can imagine how bad that looks for union trainees that are supposed to be the pinnacle of all laborers.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chicago proud
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2013 at 9:42 am

Let's get this straight, Guest. You want the PW to interview Paul Oversier and ask questions about the accident? Well, that has to be about the most inflammatory thing I've ever heard - PW journalists engaging in real reportage?

Your wildly wishful hopes for the moon aside, Guest, I might suggest that your comments would be much better received if you first admitted the obvious. Unions are bad because they are against freedom. The Bart union leaders are corrupt and tyrannical. The Bart union workers are sheep who blindly follow their leaders without recognizing that all of them - all Bart workers - are undereducated and overpaid. Oh, and that my taxes are too high.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Did you expect BARTD Integrity?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

BARTD management first said the train was controlled by an "experienced operator". Then it was under "automatic control". Appears it was actually being used to train replacement operators.
Note that this is the same BARTD that promised a station in Livermore, took the money, still charges taxes, but never intended to build the station.
At first BARTD also ignored safety, especially fire safety. When the fire service questioned the plastic car interiors, lack of fire sprinklers, and inadequate smoke ventilation and fire flows in the tunnels, they said they were not subject to local jurisdiction, only to the PUC. That ended badly with the BARTD tunnel fire that killed one and injured people. Finally BARTD fixed some of the fire concerns.
I'm sure the people have changed, but the attitude has not.


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