Cheat Mountain WV — What could be safer than a pleasant day out with children and grandparents traveling on a scenic passenger railroad train through the mountains at ten miles an hour to admire the fall colors? You just never know what a day can bring. On this day in October, a logging truck failed to stop at a railroad crossing at the U.S. Route 250 crossing at Cheat Bridge on Cheat Mountain near the Randolph and Pocahontas County line. The truck collided with a fall foliage sight-seeing passenger train, the Cheat Mountain Salamander, and caused two of the passenger cars to derail and overturn on their sides.
As bad as this collision was, it could have been far, far worse. According to WVMetroNews, there were four cars on the train, and the truck hit the third car that was being used as a dining car and the logs from the truck went into the second car which was being used as storage and did not contain passengers.
The cars were reinforced with crash posts which is why the cars didn’t crumple when they were hit by this tremendous force and why metal didn’t shear and glass didn’t shatter. Instead, they just got knocked off their track. A second’s difference could have made all the difference for the passengers of this train.
The conditions for viewing the outstanding Cheat Mountain Sugar Maple display were not optimum on Friday, October 11th, 2013, which was a day plagued with drizzle, rain, and persistent fog. The train carrying 63 sightseers and four crew members was traveling about ten miles per hour.
There was no immediate evidence that the truck driver had attempted to brake before his truck carrying logs ran through flashing railroad caution signals and crashed into two passenger cars of the Cheat Mountain Salamander, said a Randolph County Sheriff. A complete brake failure, combination of thick fog and rain, or medical condition could have precipitated the accident.
The train’s engineer had to run a third of a mile to get assistance after the crash. The site of the logging truck-train collision is in the no radio, no cell phone area near the Greenbriar Radio Telescope. Injuries ranged from minor to serious — all 67 people on the train were transported for medical evaluation — some by school bus and some by ambulance. HealthNet helicopters were not available because of the weather. Over twenty people were treated for injuries.
The driver of the truck was declared dead at the scene and the truck was a total loss. The Sheriff identified the log truck as belonging to H & H Fisher LLC of Pocahontas County. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death of the truck driver.
Investigators are working with the Public Service Commission rather than the National Safety Board which is not operating due to the partial government shutdown.
Unique Aspects of Logging Truck Accidents
Accidents involving commercial trucks are different than any other kind of motor vehicle accidents. In the first place, logging trucks and mining trucks on West Virginia roads are often fully loaded. Their sheer size and mass puts everything else on the road in danger. In addition, the companies that own and operate freight and cargo trucks are subject to federal safety standards. They know the level of liability they are under and will do everything possible to deny responsibility when one of their drivers is at fault.
Truck companies are under regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) to keep detailed records of maintenance and driver activities. After a serious collision, these records could be altered or even disappear. But as experienced trial lawyers with defense experience, we know how to guard against such actions. We hold the opposition to the highest standards of the regulations.
West Virginia Trucking Accident Lawyers
If you or a member of your family has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck of any size or weight class, talk to us. We provide a free consultation to discuss your case. If we are a good fit with each other, and you decide to retain our services, we will represent you on a contingency basis. You will not pay attorneys’ fees unless we help you recover money.
Time is an important factor in truck accident claims. Contact the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC today at 304-594-1800 or after hours 304-216-6695.
For more information: WV MetroNews, “Several still recovering from train accident; investigation continues” by Shauna Johnson, October 14, 2013: http://wvmetronews.com/2013/10/14/several-still-recovering-from-train-accident-investigation-continues/