Victims, their families and people across the country are asking how Amtrak 188 flew off the tracks last week. As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FBI conduct an investigation into the exact cause, experts have revealed several potential causes.
Potential Cause #1: Speed
Like airplanes, trains are equipped with “black boxes” that record events and actions leading up to a railroad accident.
Amtrack 188’s black box revealed that the train had accelerated to 106 mph when it entered a left-turn curve with a 50 mph speed limit.
We mentioned in our original article that the train’s engineer claimed to have no memory of the crash and has not offered any explanation for accelerating into the curve.
The stretch of track where the train derailed was not equipped with an automated speed control system that might have been able to automatically slow the train and prevent the disaster.
NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt told reporters, “We feel that, had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”
Amtrak spent the past weekend installing new speed controls on the section where the train flew off.
Potential Cause #2: Human Error
Earlier last week, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told CNN, “Clearly it was reckless in terms of the driving by the engineer. There’s no way in the world he should have been going that fast into the curve.”
It is still too early to confirm the cause of the accident. However, if the accident is found to be the result of the engineer’s misconduct, Amtrak will be responsible for the accident.
Other train wrecks have been charged to driver negligence. Four passengers perished in a 2013 crash after the engineer — by his own admission — fell asleep.
Police interviewed the Amtrak engineer last week, and the NTSB wants to interview him too.
Potential Cause #3: Track Condition
While track condition alone might not have caused the accident, attention is on the level of maintenance of the area where Amtrack 188 derailed. Transportation expert Matthew Wald said, “It’s an extremely heavily used stretch of track. They have trouble keeping it in a state of good repair.”
Many people have expressed frustration at congressional leaders’ reluctance to properly fund railroads after President Obama’s promise to focus on improving the nation’s infrastructure.
Potential Cause #4: Rock Thrown At The Train
The NTSB and FBI are investigating reports that Amtrak 188 and two other trains in the area were hit by objects before Tuesday night’s derailment. While Amtrak 188’s windshield was shattered in the accident, the NTSB asked the FBI to investigate a specific section of shattered glass.
Investigators have reported the assistant conductor on the Amtrak train overheard the engineer say the train had been struck by something. The NTSB is currently working to independently verify the assistant conductor’s information.
How Can Victims of the Amtrak 188 Crash Get Relief?
Regardless of the cause of Amtrak 188’s crash, eight innocent lives were lost and more than 200 people injured. Victims need to understand that they may be able to obtain compensation for their losses. Victims are encouraged to speak with an injury lawyer experienced in complicated accidents. Victims are rarely compensated adequately without the intervention of experienced injury attorneys. Victims are commonly offered little to nothing after an accident occurs.
Passengers affected by the crash can visit our Amtrak 188 Crash page to obtain more information on their rights.
The lawyers and staff at Gacovino Lake have decades of experience in serving the rights of injured people. If you or a loved one suffered from the Amtrak 188 crash, call and speak with our team today at (888) LAW-8500.
Or click here to request a free consultation.