Study Finds Driver Blacked Out Before 2009 Muni West Portal Crash
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Federal investigators have concluded that the driver of a San Francisco light rail train blacked out before a crash two years ago that injured dozens of passengers.
The National Transportation Safety Board released its final report Thursday on the July 2009 crash in which one Municipal Railway train struck another Muni train stopped in the station.
The crash on July 18, injured 48 people and caused $4.5 million in damage.
KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:
NTSB investigators said in the report that the crash was caused by Henry Gray, the operator of an L-Taraval train that struck a stopped K-Ingleside train as it pulled into the station.
Gray had switched the train into manual mode 24 seconds before the crash and said he had then briefly lost consciousness because of a medical problem, according to the report.
NTSB officials determined that Gray’s blackout was likely caused by aortic stenosis, the narrowing of an outflow valve of the heart.
The accident was also the fault of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for its “failure to monitor and enforce” safety rules that could have prevented the accident, the report stated.
The report found that prior to the 2009 crash, Gray was involved in five previous light-rail incidents after being transferred to that division in 2006, including another crash at the West Portal station in 2007.
Gray was suspended for five days after the 2007 accident, which Muni determined could have been avoided.
The NTSB faulted Muni for not enforcing its rule against switching out of autopilot prematurely. Muni has since beefed up enforcement, reminding operators not to switch to manual before reaching the platforms.
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