DENVER (CBS4) – The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has fired the light rail train operator blamed for a derailment that seriously injured passengers. The train went off the rails as it approached the curve at Sable Boulevard on Jan. 28. Investigators with RTD and the Aurora Police Department determined the speed of the train appears to be the primary factor of the derailment.
A woman was ejected from the train and part of her leg was severed, according to the Associate Press. Several other passengers were hospitalized.
“Light rail operators are trained to slow their trains when approaching sharp turns on the track. Since it was found that this operator was not following safety protocol, RTD has terminated the operator,” officials said in a statement released Friday.
“The human element is a factor in operating transit, which is why RTD has a rigid and extensive training process for bus and rail operators that takes into account a variety of safety issues,” officials said.
At the time of the incident, the train operator of the southbound R Line train entering the accident area acted as trained in an emergency situation and stopped the train to avoid any further incident.
“This unfortunate incident is troubling to me and the whole RTD organization, which is committed to providing safe service every day,” said RTD General Manager and CEO David Genova. “This is an extremely rare situation that we have never experienced in RTD’s nearly 25 years of light rail operation, and we’re doing all we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Elements of RTD’s investigation have included vehicle inspection, accident reconstruction and computer simulations by the manufacturer. Officials said the specific light rail vehicle and infrastructure involved were examined thoroughly and determined to be safe.
Aurora police are still investigating and working with prosecutors to determine whether any charges should be filed against the train operator.