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monorail accident

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The monorail station could be looking like this a lot more when Disney institutes its new reduced hours for the trains.

All the adjustments in policy and procedures have already been made, employees disciplined, OSHA fines levied, and the family’s lawsuit settled. All that we have been waiting for is the final federal investigation’s Accident Report. Today the National Transportation and Safety Board released that report putting a period on the end of a long sentence that I’m sure Disney World would like to put behind them.

That sentence started with a conflagration of errors by operators, management, and poor enforcement of existing policies that ended in the tragic death of a Walt Disney World Monorail Operator early on the morning of July 5th, 2009.

The report itself, issued this afternoon (releasing something on a holiday is almost like intentionally burying it, I wonder if that was coordinated in any way?), is written a very factual manner and in a plainly stated way. The facts outlined clearly put majority of the blame on inadequate procedures and failure to enforce the exact safety procedures that would have prevented the accident. To its credit Disney has made a lot of changes to correct what went wrong, but even if Disney had just enforced one of the common sense errors, this tragedy could have been averted.

In a letter sent to the local press today the NTSB has updated the status of the investigation into the Monorail accident of July 5th at Walt Disney World. In addition to interviews with the employees involved, they’ve begun to review documents provided by Walt Disneyworld.

Interestingly the letter claims they’ve received ‘most’ of what they requested. This includes: “employee records showing training, work history and work hours; monorail standard operating procedures; and mechanical maintenance and inspection history of the trains and switch mechanism.” The investigators are being thorough, that’s good to see. Let’s hope they’re also looking at comparisons to historical practices versus what was in place at the parks at the time.

Look for the report to be finished in about 6 months.

The full text of the letter is below the cut:

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary statement on the July 5th  collision of two Monorails at Walt Disney World that left one cast member dead. It contains what we have to take as the most accurate description of the tragic unfolding to date. The full report can take 6 months or more.

One of the most heartbreaking details revealed by the NTSB is that the Monorail Purple pilot died while trying to switch his train into reverse and save the lives of his passengers. An upstanding young man and a hero. I hope Walt Disney World finds some way to honor his heroic actions.

Update: The Orlando Sentinel has discovered a potentially unsettling detail. The Manager who was responsible for Monorail Central Control was off property at the time of the crash, although still issuing commands through their radio. They had been asked to take over the Central Coordinator duties after the original coordinator left early due to illness. My sources tell me it’s unlikely this was a contributing factor to the crash. But having the coordinator in the station as an extra pair of eyes during switch times is probably a bonus.

The full text of the statement below the cut: