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More information continues to emerge about the horrific Canadian train crash that took dozens of lives not long ago. The damage is hard to underestimate. According to a report from CBS News, several dozen are already confirmed dead and many more are still missing. As we reported earlier, many of the likely legal cases stemming from the tragedy may be based in Chicago. The parent company of the railway involved in the case,Rail World Inc., is based in our city.
The accident struck on Saturday, July 8th in a Quebec town, Lac-Megantic. A Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) train carrying many cars of oil become dislodged and rolled out of control toward the town. The train eventually derailed in the town center before exploding in a massive fireball. All of the victims were completely unaware that they were in any danger before the explosion. A search is still underway. However, considering it has been more than 8 days since the tragedy, the hopes for those still lost are dwindling.
CEO Points to Employee
In the immediate aftermath of the accident there was mass confusion regarding the underlying causes. The CEO of the railway and head of Rail Way Inc. initially pointed the finger at a firefighter who turned off an engine on the train during a fire that struck the train before it ran away on the track.
However, it wasn’t long before the tune was changed. Now the CEO admits that the main issue was likely the negligence of an engineer working for the company. The CEO admitted when talking about the engineer, “I think he did something wrong.” The issue was whether the engineer applied all of the hand brakes that he claimed to apply.
Similarly, the Premier of Quebec explained, “We have realized there are serious gaps from the railway company from not having been there and not communicating with the public.”
History of Problems
While this immense tragedy is undoubtedly the worst disaster to strike an MMA train, it is certainly not the first problem that the company has experienced. In fact, records indicate that the company’s safety record may be far below other carriers in the United States. Data from the Federal Railroad Administration notes that MMA had 36.1 accidents per 1 million traveled miles. To put that into perspective, the national average that same year was 14.6 per 1 million miles. That means that MMAs record was about 250% worse than the average railway.
Unsurprisingly, the company president downplayed the statistics, claiming that they only refer to very minor accidents. As it now stands, it is hard to gauge the actual severity of those past accidents from the available federal data.
However, no matter what, all train accident attorneys appreciate that even a string of minor incidents may be a sign of cut corners and a lack of committed focus to prioritizing safety. That is always unacceptable. But it is particularly egregious when the negligence, like in this case, results in unimaginable death and destruction.
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