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Investigation into Train Crash Continues

Posted on behalf of Mark F. Griffin of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Mar 07, 2015 in Wrongful Death

In a previous post we wrote about a fatal train accident that resulted in the death of six individuals. The crash occurred when the train collided with an SUV that was parked on the train tracks. Since then, authorities have been trying to determine what caused the driver of the Mercedes—who was a mother of three—to drive the vehicle onto the crossing.

According to eyewitnesses possible due to traffic, the woman pulled her vehicle fairly close to the tracks. As the train approached and the railroad crossing guard arm came down, it reportedly stuck the back window of the vehicle. Spectators said that she then go out of her car to check for damage and upon reentering the SUV, pulled it onto the tracks and into the path of the train, rather than backup.

This action has caused some to speculate that the design of the gearshift in her vehicle played a role. Unlike many cars currently on the market that have a gear shifter with a traditional layout, which requires a driver to pull the shift down one notch to go in reverse, her Mercedes had a column-mounted shifter with an alternate layout. A driver must push the shifter up to go in reverse and down to shift the vehicle into drive—the opposite of what is found in many vehicles.

As the woman had only been in possession of the vehicle for a couple of months, some are wondering whether the design of that gearshift caused her to go forward rather than the intended backward, to get out of the path.

What the final investigation will indicate was the cause of the accident remains to be seen. This theory however is interesting to think about.