Commuters on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) received an unpleasant surprise last week when their train failed to stop properly upon arriving at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal. The train crash will be investigated thoroughly, but preliminary reports suggest that the train was moving erratically as it approached the terminal and it’s been suggested that the driver could have been suffering from a sleep disorder. Up to 106 people were injured in the crash and transported to local hospitals for treatment, but none of the injuries were considered serious and there were no fatalities.
Not a Typical Commute
The train crashed on Wednesday, January 4 around 8:00 a.m. and was carrying 600–700 passengers. Some witnesses said they noticed nothing unusual at the time, but records show that the train had been moving in an unusual way.
Instead of pulling into the station at the correct speed, the train reportedly entered the terminal at more than double the normal speed and then decelerated and accelerated erratically, finally crashing into the safety device at the end of the platform while still moving at approximately 10 mph.
Compared to Hoboken Crash
Almost immediately, parallels were drawn between last week’s Atlantic Terminal crash and the crash of a New Jersey Transit train last September. In that accident, one person was killed and more than one hundred injured when a commuter train came into the station at double the speed limit and then hit the bumper at the end of a platform, causing structural damage to the station. The sole fatality, in fact, was a woman struck by falling debris.
An underlying cause of both crashes might also be the same. There’s a strong suspicion that the driver in that crash had a sleep disorder, which was diagnosed only after the crash, and that this was a major factor in the accident. The same problem was behind a 2013 Metro-North rail crash that killed four and injured seventy. Metro-North put a screening program in place after that 2013 crash, but the LIRR had not. That’s worrisome, considering that the Metro-North program found undiagnosed sleep disorders in 12 percent of its engineers.
A Foreseeable Accident?
The LIRR has a very good overall safety record. According to news sources, their last fatal crash was in 1951. But in light of the fact that sleep disorders were the suspected cause of two fatal train crashes in recent years and that so many of Metro-North’s engineers tested positive for them, one has to wonder if the LIRR was ignoring a huge red flag at the expense of customer safety. It’s a fortunate thing that no one was killed in the Atlantic Terminal incident.
New York City Train Crash Attorneys
Injuries and deaths involving trains happen all the time, but most people don’t hear about them. In 2013, there were nearly 900 deaths from rail accidents. The majority of them were people walking along tracks or rail workers themselves, but passengers are sometimes the victims.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a railroad crash, turn to an experienced firm like Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP for help. We understand train accident law, and we offer a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. Give us a call at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462) today to schedule a free consultation, or contact us online through the form below to learn more.