BART Fined $1.3M For Safety Violations Resulting In Two Worker Deaths In 2013

October 11, 2018 16:16 pm · 8 comments

(by Dan McMenamin) – The California Public Utilities Commission today issued a $1.3 million fine to BART for safety violations that led to the death of two workers who were struck by a train between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations in 2013.

Along with the fine, the largest the CPUC has ever imposed on a public agency for safety violations, the commission at its meeting in San Francisco today also placed BART on probation for three years.

Christopher Sheppard, a 58-year-old BART manager from Hayward, and Laurence Daniels, a 66-year-old contractor from Fair Oaks in Sacramento County, were inspecting a dip in the tracks when a train hit and killed them on Oct. 19, 2013, during a four-day strike by BART workers.

No trains were carrying passengers during the strike, but some trains were running for maintenance and training purposes. BART at the time had a safety procedure called “simple approval” in which track employees were
responsible for their own safety and had to clear from the tracks within 15 seconds if a train was approaching.

The “simple approval” rule was suspended shortly afterward and later eliminated.

According to the CPUC, the train that hit Sheppard and Daniels was being operated by a trainee operator who was also a BART manager, and was under the supervision of a trainer who was a fellow BART manager.

The CPUC’s investigation found that BART that day violated multiple safety rules and requirements, many of which contributed in some manner to the deaths.

The violations included the repeated use of a cellphone by the trainer, failure to sound the train’s horn prior to the incident, and failing to provide a timely and adequate investigative report, according to the CPUC.

“These fatalities were totally preventable,” CPUC Commissioner Liane Randolph said in a statement. “We cannot undo the harm to Mr. Sheppard and Mr. Daniels or their families, What we can do is to make sure that BART makes safety its number one priority now and in the future.”

If BART is in compliance with safety rules during the three-year probationary period, its $1.3 million fine will be decreased by half.

The transit agency must also comply with various orders, including tracking and submitting a report on all violations of safety rules, re-evaluating its current safety training programs, and posting a sign at each station about the CPUC fine.

BART issued a statement in response to the CPUC’s decision, saying it is “currently evaluating” it and that the agency “has worked with the CPUC and others to identify and address all potential causes of the accident.”

“BART responded swiftly to the accident by abolishing its prior wayside access procedures, working with an independent association to create and implement new wayside access procedures, and retraining all employees and
contractors who might access BART’s wayside,” the statement said.

BART officials said they have put up trackside physical barriers to protect crews and installed $2 million worth of safety barrier fencing.

“Nothing is more important to BART than safety,” the statement said. “A safer system for our employees will provide for a safer system for our riders and a better BART.”

Same October 11, 2018 at 4:27 PM

CPUC administrators gotta eat.

anon October 11, 2018 at 5:37 PM

One of they was the ‘safety’ guy & was to watch for trains – he got them both killed..what a good worker. the good worker should sue the others family

Cautiously Informed October 11, 2018 at 7:28 PM

BART fined for workers deaths? No, not quite. It’s the taxpayers who will be footing the bill for that incident. But, I could be wrong. Maybe each member of the BART Board will be paying the fine from their personal funds. However, as we all know, there is zero accountability for government workers, even in situations as egregious and disastrous as this one.

Anonymous October 11, 2018 at 9:35 PM

One agency fine another. Big deal . The public pays .

Tsa October 12, 2018 at 1:45 PM

BART is not fined, it’s the taxpayers and fare payers who foot the bill for this. What a joke this is!!!

Kirkwood October 12, 2018 at 1:55 PM

I’ve never understood how anybody can get hit by a train. I’m always hyper-alert around tracks, even in the middle of nowhere. I always notice whether tracks are rusty or polished.

MEV October 12, 2018 at 8:11 PM

T.O. BART manager trainee didn’t even sound the horn for starters. Even every BART passenger would have been smart enough to sound the horn when you see people!

MEV October 12, 2018 at 8:09 PM

You can just imagine the rest of the system with a bunch of bungling managers who know nothing about rail safety! Still tons and tons of psycho transients at Concord. Felt so sorry for Station Agent yesterday. Even though she’s behind the glass, I was scared to death of that screamer with the long gray hair yesterday. You could still hear him after he was three blocks away from the station. Was so happy he couldn’t fare evade to get in for a change. These transients are mentally unstable and a danger to all but thanks to Jerry Brown, this problem will just get worse as well as BART safety because no qualified is in management or on the board of directors at BART. The CPUC, at the very least, should be auditing how these BART clowns are spending money and making sure its not on used parts.

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