January Inspection Showed Truck to Be Dangerous

You may have seen some footage of the catastrophic Amtrak train accident from last weekend. At least six people were tragically killed in the fiery truck crash that destroyed two rail cars – one with the semi-truck buried inside it.

How did this happen?

Investigators are trying to determine how a truck driver who plowed into the train in the desert of Nevada failed to notice both the crossing gates and the blinking lights that should have been clearly visible a half-mile away. Several days after the train accident, few accident facts have been established.

  • – Early reports indicated that the driver tried to stop the Peterbilt truck, which was towing two trailers, at the train crossing, but the truck hit the left side of the westbound Amtrak train.
  • – The driver was working for John Davis Trucking Company in Nevada; a family- owned company specialized in hauling ore from local mines and moving gravel and sand.
  • – Federal records showed this company had been cited seven times since 2010 by the Nevada Department of Public Safety for crashes and unsafe driving.
  • – In a January inspection, authorities deemed the truck that struck the train to be an imminent hazard to public safety, operating a truck with tire treads dangerously exposed.

National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said the driver was traveling “at a considerable speed” in a 70 mph zone before the crash; federal investigators are examining the truck’s wheels, tires and brakes for details on the exact speed and the truck’s braking capacity. The federal investigators will meet with the company to review the driver’s medical history, training and experience.

Amtrak reportedly filed a lawsuit against the trucking company yesterday.

Update: the NTSB investigation determined that the collision was caused by an inattentive trucker with a history of speeding violations who was driving a tractor-trailer truck with faulty brakes. The driver died as a result of the crash.