Two maintenance workers were killed on the tracks after being struck by a Bay Area Rapid Transit train Saturday afternoon in Walnut Creek.
According to BART officials, the accident took place at approximately 2 p.m. between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations, where the two workers were investigating a report of a dip in the tracks during a routine maintenance check. One of the workers has been confirmed as a BART employee, and the other was a contractor. At the time of the accident, one was acting as a lookout while the other inspected the track.
“This is a tragic day in BART’s history,” said Grace Crunican, general manager of the public transportation system in a prepaid statement. “The entire BART family is grieving.” Crunican added that the train was running in automatic mode when the collision occurred, and that an “experienced operator” was at the helm. Both of the workers killed had had “extensive experience” working with both freight and passenger trains.
A radio transmission recorded shortly after the accident captured the train’s operator saying “BART emergency! BART emergency to Central! We just struck some individuals … Central be advised it may be BART employees.” A later transmission confirmed that “both are deceased and definitely BART employees.”
The Bay Area Rapid Transit System is the fifth largest transit system in the country, transporting more than 400,000 round trip passengers each workday. Last Friday, BART employees went on strike for the second time in four months after negotiations over workday lengths and overtime pay broke down.
As a result of the strike, some managers were forced to operate trains, which labor unions representing BART employees had previously warned against. “The managers may very well have been train operators at one time, but still it’s a bit of a struggle to come up to speed on short notice,” said Des Patten, spokesman for Service Employees International Union Local 1021.
At this time transit officials have not named the train’s operator, though it may have been a manager, according to a report from the Associated Press. In response, spokesman Ben Fairow of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police has announced a full investigation into the accident, including interviews with all employees involved and a drug test of the train’s operator.
Patricia Schuchardt, president of AFSCME Local 3993, which also represents BART employees, said that safety concerns were addressed as a part of the failed negotiations. “It’s a very unsafe situation the agency gambled with. Had there not been a strike, there would have been a lot more safety precautions out there.”
If you or someone you know has been injured in a public transportation accident such as this, there are legal protections in place designed to help you back on your feet. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, compensation can be recovered from those at fault to help cover costs like doctor visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, and more.
At AA Accident Attorneys, we know your rights, and will fight to get you the full amount you are rightfully owed. As always, we will not charge you for any of our services until your case is won. If we are unable to collect on your case, then you will not owe us anything. For more information or a free evaluation to discuss your legal options, call us right away; we can be reached seven days a week, any time day or night.