Pretrial Proceedings Leave Much For Discovery On Tragic Train Ac - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Pretrial Proceedings Leave Much For Discovery On Tragic Train Accident of 2012

Anum Valliani
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It was a call to request evidence exposing the cause of the 2012 train accident that killed four veterans and injured 13 in Midland

The plaintiff's claim Union Pacific has been risking people's lives for years and withholding information about it.

They said it has to do with the length of the warning times programmed at each railroad crossing and that system on Garfield, where the crash occurred, was and is defective.

"If the lights and gates had functioned as designed, the gates would have come down in front of the tractor trailer instead of on top of it," Kevin Glasheen, Counsel for the plaintiffs, said.

They explained that federal law states that the warning system at crossings must last at least 25 seconds. The day of the accident, they say it had only given a 20 second warning. Furthermore, they claim to have evidence and a witness report of multiple instances preceding the accident when there was only a 19 second warning time. That, they said is a "nuclear problem" and would force the crossing to be shut down. Apparently they had been given that information and had created a plan to resolve that issue but higher ups opted never to execute it.

So throughout the hearing, the plaintiffs requested documents spanning years to prove the railroad's negligence.

But the defendants claimed the system design is not what caused the accident.

According to a statement by Union Pacific's Spokesperson, Jeff DeGradd, "The National Transportation Safety Board conducted a thorough review of this tragedy, and in its final report concluded that the train operation and railroad infrastructure were not factors in the great cross and collision or resulting injuries. Nothing the personal injury attorneys have alleged changes the board's independent conclusions."

NewsWest 9 asked that if those aren't the causes, then what do they believe was the issue?

"That's not something I'm going to get into right now," he said.

Union Pacific also called out the plaintiffs for failing to point fingers at or even question Show of Support, the City of Midland or parade organizers for their part in the disaster. They also said that they're opponents are not being realistic about their requests.

"We have found that some of the requests have been unreasonable and a little far reaching. We want to stay focused on the incident and the issues surrounding it so that we can come to a conclusion," he said.

Odessa Judge James Rush is presiding over this case inside the 441st District Court in Midland.

"We're all anxious to have the case presented to a jury and let them decide the case," Glasheen said.

That applies to no one more than to the victim's families.

"Some of them have lost their spouses, some of them have suffered personal injuries but they're persevering. They're all looking forward to their day in court to assign responsibility for this tragedy," Glasheen said.

Another hearing is set for late October and the trial will be held in January.

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