Showing posts with label Engineer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Engineer. Show all posts

BART train kills worker on tracks in Concord 2008

By PETE BENNETT - Contra Costa Watch  
Phone: 510-460-5641
Posted: 06/13/2013

Reposted to Protect My Sons 

This accident stands out because like the recent case he was on the wrong tracks.  

BART train kills worker on tracks in Concord

Published 4:00 am, Wednesday, October 15, 2008
  • James Strickland, a track inspector for BART, was struck and killed by a train on October 14, 2008 in Concord, Calif. The train was traveling in the opposite direction than it usually would and hit Strickland from behind. Photo: Strickland Family, Courtesy To The Chronicle
    James Strickland, a track inspector for BART, was struck and killed by a train on October 14, 2008 in Concord, Calif. The train was traveling in the opposite direction than it usually would and hit Strickland from behind. Photo: Strickland Family, Courtesy To The Chronicle

Three agencies are trying to determine why a BART inspector walking on tracks in Concord was fatally struck from behind by a train that normally would have been traveling on the opposite track.
At the time of the accident Tuesday between the Concord and Pleasant Hill stations, BART had assigned trains headed in opposite directions on the San Francisco and Pittsburg/Bay Point lines to a shared track. The regular track for trains headed eastbound was closed for routine maintenance, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.
The BART inspector, 44-year-old James Richard Strickland of Concord, was walking on the active track when he was hit by a train carrying passengers about 9:30 a.m.
"Under normal circumstances, the train would have been coming at him, not behind him," Johnson said.
"The train operator heard a thud and immediately stopped the train," Johnson said. As is routine, the operator was tested for drugs and alcohol and placed on paid administrative leave while the investigations continue.
The incident is under review by Cal/OSHA, BART police and the California Public Utilities Commission, which has jurisdiction over rail mishaps.
"We've got to find out what was happening, what the procedures are for notifying workers that trains are running in reverse direction," said Dean Fryer, spokesman for Cal/OSHA, the state's workplace-safety agency.
"We also want to look at the train operator," he added. "Were there any problems there? Any obstructed views? Any circumstance where he or she wouldn't notice someone was on the track or near the track?"
Under BART protocol, the operations control center was required to alert the train operators that maintenance crews were in the vicinity. However, dispatchers were not required to alert Strickland and his inspection partner that the trains were running on a single track, Johnson said. Inspectors are responsible for assessing the situation themselves to remain safe, he said.
Johnson said investigators are trying to determine what notifications, if any, went out, when and to whom.
The train that struck the worker - a seven-year veteran of the agency that Johnson described as highly experienced and trained - came from behind. Johnson said it can be hard to hear a train approaching. Trains normally travel at about 70 mph in that zone, Johnson said.
The use of a single track is not unusual for BART but requires that extra precautions be taken to assure the trains heading in opposite directions take turns on the affected segment.
Strickland, a structures inspector, had been working in a two-man team when he was struck as he walked on the track. His partner was about 1,500 feet away on the opposite track. Johnson said the inspection work was routine.
Inspectors look for problems with buildings, track ways and aerial structures. Johnson did not know what specifically brought Strickland to the track segment where he was killed.
Strickland's close friend and co-worker, Tom Tetrault, said it was unlikely that Strickland had erred in being on the track.
"He was the safest person I've ever met. He took everything seriously that had to do with safety," said Tetrault, a BART electronics technician. "The only thing I can think of is that the train was in the wrong place or they told him the wrong information about where to be."
Tetrault said Strickland, a jovial native of Arkansas and Texas, joined BART the day before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 - and ended up loving the job, which took him all over the Bay Area and kept him outdoors. He began his career with BART as a transit vehicle mechanic. In December 2006 he was promoted to structures inspector.
Strickland was partial to country music and classic cars and had, with Tetrault's help, been restoring a 1951 GMC pickup for his brother-in-law. He was also devoted to Harley-Davidsons; in August he and another friend had ridden through Canada and Sturgis, S.D., home of one of the world's largest motorcycle rallies.
Strickland leaves behind his wife of two years, Linda Strickland, and his 18-year-old son from an earlier marriage, J.T. Strickland. Friends and relatives gathered at Strickland's home Tuesday to grieve.
"I'm really startled about it," said Tetrault. "He was an amazing man. He will be very much missed."
The last time a BART worker was fatally struck by a train was on Jan. 12, 2001. Four other BART workers have been killed since the system began service 36 years ago.
Tuesday's accident happened near the intersection of Minert Road and Chateau Court, between the Concord station and BART's Concord maintenance yard, where the BART tracks are straight and at ground level between barbed-wire fences.
The accident forced BART to shut down service for more than three hours.

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