By Debbie Hersman
In just under two weeks there have been four major accident launches. On Friday, May 17, the NTSB launched a go-team to Bridgeport, Conn., to investigate a derailment and collision involving two Metro North passenger trains. The following Friday evening, a bridge collapsed over the Skagit River in Mt. Vernon, Washington; the NTSB was on scene that evening and the rest of the go-team arrived the next morning. Then, early in the morning on May 25, two freight trains collided under a highway overpass in Chaffee, Mo., causing the trains to derail and the overpass to partially collapse. Another go-team launched and arrived in Missouri that afternoon. Next, on May 28 a train struck a truck at a railroad grade crossing near Baltimore, Maryland; and yes, another go-team launched.
And, while go-teams were launching all over the country, other investigators were responding to additional accidents. On May 20, there was a fish processing vessel fire near Seattle and a marine safety investigator traveled to Washington to work with the U.S. Coast Guard. Similarly, two marine safety investigators traveled to Freeport, Bahamas, to join the Bahamian authorities and the Coast Guard in the investigation of the May 27 Grandeur of the Seas cruise-ship fire. On May 28, a Metro North passenger train struck and killed a track foreman in West Haven, Conn.; NTSB sent an investigator to West Haven this morning.
During this same period, NTSB regional aviation safety investigators responded to fatal accidents in Auburn, Ca. (May 18); Garoga, N.Y. (May 24); Cross Timbers, Mo. (May 25); Macon, Ga. (May 27); and Flagstaff, Ariz. (May 28).
The total: 12 accidents in 12 days. There’s a lot going on and our dedicated professionals are up to the challenge. In each of these investigations, the goal is simple: find out what happened and why so that we can develop safety recommendations to prevent future accidents and needless loss of life and injuries.