By Jaxon Van Derbeken
The video shows that at 1:44 p.m., the trainee operator heads into the blind curve. He later told federal accident investigators that he had spotted the men up ahead. Not sure what they are doing, he went into the bend at full speed of 68 mph.
The video shows that five seconds before impact, the trainee sees the workers reemerge as he rounds the curve. He presses a button that he later told federal investigators he believed was the horn. The video indicates he actually pressed the hold door/close button, directly above the horn.
He then hits the brakes, but it’s too late to avoid hitting the men, who investigators believe had their backs turned until the final second. Just before the accident, he jumps forward in the cab and shouts “Move!” repeatedly.
In BART’s final report – issued in January of this year – the chief safety officer concludes that because of the curve, the deaths were “unavoidable.”
The report cites the “simple approval” policy in effect at the time, which made workers “individually responsible for providing their own protection…” The report concluded: “Adherence to the rules would have prevented the accident.”
“They are blaming the victims for this,” says Sen. Jerry Hill, who has long been a vocal safety advocate in the legislature. “I think it’s shameful ... it really is.”
The state agency charged with overseeing public rail systems, the Public Utilities Commission, blames BART for having a “poor and inadequate” safety culture. Regulators contend BART could, and should, have banned workers from the blind curve, or at least made trains slow for them automatically. Regulators say the agency should be fined $600,000 for a string of violations, including its reliance on the “simple approval” protocol.