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NTSB: Trucker Fatigue, Unfamiliarity with Area Caused Huge 2015 Truck-Train Crash

Thursday, February 16, 2017By Richard Alexander

Many people remember hearing about the crash last February between a Metrolink train and a commercial truck. What was concluded about the cause of the crash?

At about 6:00 on the morning of February 23, 2015, truck driver Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez of Yuma, Arizona went on duty. He worked as a farm equipment repairman.

He left Somerton, Arizona at 1:00 p.m. that day, heading to a job site in Oxnard, California. The trip should have taken the driver about six hours.

Sanchez-Ramirez was delayed over four hours in Jacumba due to radiator damage. He had to get a replacement truck. He was again delayed in the early morning hours of February 24 when he was sideswiped in Los Angeles. At this point, he had been on duty about 24 hours.

The driver was using a navigation app on his cell phone, as well as written directions to the job site. He was travelling south, intending to make a right turn at an upcoming intersection. Instead, he turned early, heading about 80 feet down train tracks until he got stuck. A Metrolink commuter train hit his truck about 12 minutes later, killing the train engineer and hurting over 30 people.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent in a go-team to investigate the accident. The NTSB’s report concluded that the crash was likely caused by the truck driver’s fatigue, coupled with his lack of familiarity with the area where he was driving. Although the rail crossing was properly marked, the crossbucks and signals were not activated because no train was approaching when the trucker came upon the intersection.

The NTSB also noted that if the navigation app the trucker was using had included railroad crossing information, the crash would have been less likely to occur. However, even though some apps had agreed to do this, it was not done at the time of the crash.

Unfortunately, deaths and injuries happen too often in all types of transportation. If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury in a crash, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.

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