The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the 2009 monorail crash that killed driver Austin Wuennenberg was the fault of a Walt Disney World employee.
According to a final report, the NTSB reported that the collision was caused by a shop panel operator’s failure to position a switch in the correct manner. The resulting crash caused $24 million in damages, and the NTSB says that “contributing to the crash was Walt Disney World Resort’s lack of standard operating procedures leading to an unsafe practice when reversing trains on its monorail system.”
Greg Hale, Disney’s chief safety officer, has overseen many of the enhanced safety measures that were added after the crash, including software upgrades and additional surveillance and operation systems that monitor the trains. In a statement, Hale said:
We have been working closely with the National Transportation Safety Board during their review of our monorail operations and we have already enhanced our system. We have just received the NTSB’s brief and it does not offer any further recommendations.
While a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Wuennenberg’s family was dismissed earlier this year, Disney has made changes in its monorail operating staff to hopefully prevent another tragic incident in the future. Disney said that they would hire Central Monorail Controllers to oversee traffic on the monorail tracks, focusing solely on watching the trains rather than performing several tasks at once.