It may seem strange for a truck driver to file suit after he pulled his truck into the path of an oncoming train. But in this case, as in many others, there is a question regarding whether the accident would have happened if authorities had taken enough responsibility for keeping people safe.
An accident with severe consequences
The truck driver was hauling hydrochloric acid near Fredericktown, a small community in Washington County about 40 miles south of Pittsburgh.
The driver came to a complete stop at an intersection and then turned left to the tracks. There, the train collided with his truck, according to counsel’s account of video from the truck’s cab.
The driver suffered rib and sternum fractures as well as other broken and bruised bones. According to the suit, he now suffers back and other pain, breathing problems and psychological injuries.
The crash spilled 40,000 pounds of hydrochloric acid solution, causing a chemical haze to envelop the area and an evacuation of area homes. The spill necessitated a major cleanup effort.
Safety measures after three decades of crashes
It was the sixth crash at the crossing in less than 30 years, according to a local paper’s review of public records.
Only late last year did the Public Utility Commission approve a plan drafted by the railroad company, local officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to install safety measures at the intersection.
The officials decided to erect signage prohibiting large trucks from making such left-hand turns at the intersection. They will also install a gate with a bell, a warning signal on the road and lines on the road to indicate where to stop.
Driver alleges negligence, carelessness and recklessness
The driver and his family allege that several entities were careless in attending to their responsibility to make the crossing safe.
According to the suit, despite knowing of the hazards of the crossing, they failed to give the driver enough warning and this failure caused the driver’s injuries.