Two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers were killed by a commuter train returning from routine maintenance while the workers were inspecting the tracks on Saturday afternoon.
The accident happened while the four-car train was under automatic operation, meaning it was running without a driver, according to BART’s Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier.
Oversier added that there were several people aboard the train at the time of the accident, reports USA Today. Oversier wouldn’t say who the train’s operator was, though an earlier BART statement explained the person was an experienced operator.
Most BART workers have been on strike for the past few days after contract negotiations between two main unions and management fell apart. Officials explained that Saturday’s accident killed one system employee and one contractor. The accident happened in the East Bay city of Walnut Creek just before 2 pm local time.
The train involved in the accident was at a yard while workers were cleaning off graffiti. ABC News notes that the system’s general manager, Grace Cruncian, commented, “This is a tragic day in BART’s history. The entire BART family is grieving.”
BART officials added that the two employees killed on Saturday were investigating a dip in the tracks when they were struck. A statement explained, “Both people had extensive experience working around moving trains in both the freight train and the rapid transit industry.”
Oversier added during a press conference that the two workers on the tracks would have been expected to be able to clear “the operating envelope within 15 seconds of when a train gets to their location.” Patricia Schuchardt, president of the union AFSCME 3993, released a statement about the accident, saying:
“We are saddened to learn that two BART employees were killed today after being hit by a BART train. One of the employees was a member of AFSCME Local 3993. Our hearts go out to the family of both workers as well as to the person operating the train. This is a tragedy.”
Out of respect for the two workers killed on Saturday, the union stated it will not picket BART stations on Sunday.
[Image by Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis via Wikimedia Commons]