Attorneys Release Results from Independent Investigation into Deadly Train Crash

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- On Thursday, results were released from the independent investigation initiated by attorneys representing several of the train crash victims from November's deadly accident in Midland.

The key issue, they found, has to do with a problem in the circuit box just next to the tracks. Inside the box is a signal system that helps send off warning instructions.

Attorneys claim their experts found that the wiring in that signal box was only capable of giving a minimum warning of 25 seconds. They argue that number is below the state standard for that crossing, which they discovered in a copy of TxDOT signal plan from 1992.

"When they went out and did their diagnostic review of this, the railroad, the state and the city [determined] that 30 seconds would be appropriate," Attorney Bob Pattroff, said.

Pattroff's experts believe that the nature of the defect in that signal system had to do with overlapping circuits near the crossing, which he claims, were improperly engineered.

Late on Thursday, Union Pacific reported to NewsWest 9 that the NTSB confirmed the signals worked properly and in accordance with federal guidelines on the day of the crash.

Part of a statement to NewsWest 9 said, "It is a tragedy that the truck drove through the red traffic light at the intersection, and as noted by the NTSB, the active crossing signals, putting its passengers in harm's way. We would not be having this conversation had the truck not driven through the active railroad crossing signals."

Union Pacific says they will be making an adjustment to signal system to improve what's called "buffer time."

"'Buffer time' is additional warning time over and above the warning time required by federal regulations," the statement said.

However, attorneys still say that the signal system wasn't in compliance with the government's standard, which likely caused the tragedy.

"It's really gratifying to see that the railroad is going to be out there fixing this problem, but, the bigger problem is, 'How did this ever come to pass?'" Pattroff said.

We're told Union Pacific will be making adjustments to the buffer time on Friday morning.