BART has agreed to pay $300,000 to the family of one of its contractors, who was killed by a train during a BART strike in 2013. The settlement is the result of a wrongful death lawsuit against the agency brought by the worker's two daughters.
On Oct. 19, 2013, 66-year-old Laurence Daniels and 58-year-old Christopher Sheppard were inspecting a dip in the tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations when they were struck and killed by a train. Both men were considered expert engineers used to working on the tracks.
A trainee was operating the BART train that day, and an investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission found that the operator who was supposed to be supervising the trainee was not in the operating cabin and may have been texting on a cellphone.
In a statement, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said that since the accident, BART has implemented many new safety policies. The agency’s use of “simple approval” -- a policy that allowed workers to go near tracks as long as one person was watching -- is no longer allowed.
The agency has improved communication between the control center, crews and train operators, according to Trost. Now, if a worker is within 6 feet of the track, trains are stopped and can't proceed until a wayside worker lets the control center know the area is clear. At that point, the control center informs the operator it's safe to proceed.
“There is nothing more important than safety and the safety of our employees,” Trost’s statement said.
BART has also reduced train speeds in work areas and has installed $2 million in barrier fencing.
The 2013 BART strike began on Oct.18 and lasted nearly four days.