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Investigations reveal causes of Disney monorail crash

A fatal accident that occurred at Walt Disney World in 2009 was determined by federal investigators to have been caused by a lack of adequate safety protocols. A number of other factors contributed to the crash on the premises, authorities say.

The accident took place when a monorail train collided with another, killing a 21-year-old resort employee at about 2 a.m. on July 5, 2009, as the system was closing for the night. A track switch, which was supposed to place the train off the Epcot loop, was never activated, and the train reversed into a second train.

Six passengers, who were on the second train, were not injured, but the driver of the train, who was from Kissimmee, was killed. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the accident caused about $24 million worth of property damage, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The report of the incident was 14 pages long and noted that two park employees caused the accident. One apparently failed to property position the switch beam, while the other was not in the system’s control tower to relay messages or catch errors when the accident occurred. It was also determined that the resort also did not have safe operating procedures for reversing trains.

According to investigators, employees of the resort were not required to follow a monorail operating guide, the procedures Disney did have did not require the verification of the beam’s alignment, and the resort’s policies did not require the central coordinator to be in the control tower, which holds a grid of beams and an emergency switch that shuts down all trains.

Earlier, Disney was cited by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations and was fined more than $35,000.

The investigation that was just completed took two and a half years in all.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Investigators: lack of safety protocols at Disney contributed to 2009 monorail accident,” Jason Garcia, Oct. 31, 2011

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