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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Blumenthal: MNRR Should Notify Locals of Train Hits

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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said today Westport police should have been notified by Metro-North that one of its trains struck something on the evening of Dec. 26 on the Saugatuck River railroad bridge.

He addressed the railroad after Westport police said a Metro-North train struck and killed Annette White, 46, on the bridge. Her body was found the next day in the Saugatuck River.

Westport police said they were notified later by a passenger on the train of the 20-minute stop after the train hit something, checked a video surveillance tape, confirmed the stop, and then launched a search which turned up White’s cellphone and an earring below the bridge.

Metro-North officials said the train crew made an emergency stop after striking something on a bridge, notified the railroad’s traffic control and searched the area, but did not find any indication that a person had been struck.

Blumenthal said in a letter to Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast that train crews should also notify local police anytime they strike something on the tracks.

“This tragic incident demonstrates dramatically a continued failure in safety policies and culture,” Blumenthal wrote.

“Basic common sense and professional protocols should require immediate notification of MTA police, local authorities and possibly emergency responders.”

Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the railroad followed its protocols on Dec. 26.

“Metro-North inspects trains after striking objects, which occurs an average of once or twice a week,” she said.

Posted 01/02 at 06:05 PM

Comments:     Comment Policy

What a tragedy.  I did not know this woman.  I suspect many Westporters did not know her. 
The Metro North official says that trains strike objects once or twice a week. And when this happens, the railroad follows protocol. Hmm…
Do the trains frequently hit objects that are 5 feet tall and 125+ pounds? This has nothing to do with why this obviously distraught woman was unfortunately on the tracks. That is clearly not the railroad’s fault. But Metro North’s response is chilling.
Did Metro North not think this was a very serious incident?  Did the engineer think he/she hit an enormous deer dressed in human clothing?  Was this really not a 9-1-1 incident?
There was a public service campaign some 30-40 years ago that asked, “What if every one signed their name to their work?” Worth thinking about..

Posted by Jim Hood on January 03, 2014 at 06:38 AM | #

I agree with Senator Blumenthal that MNRR should have notified local police - especially given the tragic circumstances involved and a multi-day investigation that followed the discovery of Ms. White.  The fact that it was a PASSENGER who notified the police?  Inexcusable MNRR.  I ride the train regularly and it would be notable to have a train stop for TWENTY minutes and have train personnel get OFF of the train and onto the tracks. And the fact the train was on a bridge over water makes it even more alarming.  Meaning no disrespect or insensitivity - no matter what a train hits while on a bridge over water there is a high potential to have the object hit pushed off the bridge and into the water - so notification of the local authorities (police/fire/EMS) should have been MNRR’s protocol.  Perhaps a change in their policy is warranted when it comes to bridges.

And, as long as we’re bringing MNRR’s ad campaigns up….why doesn’t MNRR follow one of their recent ad campaigns: “If you see something, say something.”

Posted by Dorrie Harris on January 03, 2014 at 04:22 PM | #

Sorry Dorrie, but I take the train all the time, and stopping for 20 minutes and having the train crew exit is not noteworthy. They are usually checking the pantograph (a word all commuters recognize as MetroNorth-speak for “We’re going to be stuck a while.”) I do agree that hitting a body, whether human or animal, is unusual and they should have reported it.

Posted by Meg Lepisto on January 03, 2014 at 10:44 PM | #

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