The victim, Derrell Robbson, claims that he suffered a head injury and lost consciousness when a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, train smashed into a parked train on the Norristown High Speed Line at the 69th Street Transportation Center around 12:10 a.m. Thirty-two other passengers were also injured in the accident.
Attorneys Tom Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi filed the lawsuit on behalf of Robbson, 26, and alleged that the train was traveling at an unsafe speed.
“There is no excuse when you crash into another train,” Mongeluzzi told CBS. “That is clearly the failure of the transportation organization, SEPTA, either mechanically, by operator error or by both.”
While the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet determined the cause of the crash, Robbson states in his lawsuit that he witnessed the SEPTA conductor rushing. He also claims that the engineer overshot two prior stops before the accident occurred and was speeding as he approached the 69th Street station.
According to WPVI-TV, Robbson boarded the train near Rosemont College. The train then blew by two stops along the Norristown line, and the conductor had to back up the train to pick up passengers. As the train approached the 69th Street stop, it smashed into an empty, parked train.
Robbson’s lawsuit claims that he banged his head and was knocked unconscious as a result of the collision. He is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.
Other train passengers corroborated Robbson’s version of events when speaking to the media.
In an interview with CBS, a passenger who identified himself as Ronnie said that the train conductor was overshooting stations.
“I was waiting at Gulph Mills, and the train came by and blew past us about two or three train lengths,” Ronnie said. “[It] stopped, backed up and picked us up. The same thing happened at Bryn Mawr.”
Meanwhile, passenger Raymond Woodard said that the train appeared to be speeding.
“I fell asleep coming from work,” he said. “I heard the train going super fast. I look up and see we are at 69th Street and thought, ‘Why are we going so fast?’ Then we just hit the train, boom.”
In response to a Feb. 21 SEPTA train crash that injured three people, the NTSB recommended that the authority install inward- and outward-facing cameras on its trains, according to The Philadephia Inquirer. The agency said that cameras aimed at the tracks and at the conductor would have made it much easier for investigators to determine what caused that crash.
SEPTA said that it plans to have cameras installed on all of its elevated and subway trains by the end of 2017.
The NTSB said that it had obtained video evidence of the 69th Street crash from two onboard cameras.
SEPTA also has an Automatic Train Control, or ATC, system in place that is supposed to prevent accidents like the one that occurred at the 69th Street Transportation Center.
The Philadephia Inquirer reported that the $750 million signaling system is designed to prevent speeding, maintain a safe distance between trains, ensure signal stops, alert conductors to broken rails and ensure the safety of railroad workers.
SEPTA is reviewing its ATC system to see if a systemic mechanical issue led to the Aug. 22 crash.
Robbson’s attorneys also represented victims of the 2015 Amtrak 188 crash, which killed eight people and injured over 200 others. They are pushing for the installation of Positive Train Control on all public trains.
“We take the Amtrak train derailment, for example,” Mongeluzzi said. “If there had been Automatic Train Control, that would’ve slowed the train down so it didn’t derail, but it wouldn’t have prevented it from smashing into a stationary railroad car on the track. Positive Train Control would have done that.”