NTSB Finishes Report on 2009 Monorail Accident

After nearly two-and-a-half years, the National Transportation Safety Board delivered its concluded report on the 2009 monorail accident that claimed a Disney employee's life. The fourteen page report found employee errors as well as lack of safety protocols to be the main cause of the collision of two monrail trains which claimed the life of 21-year-old Austin Wuennenberg.

The NTSB report found Disney at fault in three areas regarding the accident. During its investigation, the NTSB found monorail drivers were not required to adhere to a protocol when switching seats to drive a train through track switches. In other words, drivers reported it was "not an uncommon practice" to back the train through a track switch as oppposed to moving from the front driving cab to the back driving cab which would allow for forward-facing driving at all times.

The NTSB also found Disney's policies did not mandate the central coordinator of the monorails be in the control tower when guiding and directing the trains while the last area of fault involved the lack of procedure for those workers switching tracks to verify when the track were in line again after initiating the track switch.

Disney policies regarding the three areas of fault found by the NTSB have been updated and changed in the aftermath of the accident. Greg Hale, chief safety officer for Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a prepared statement on Monday:

Day-in and day-out, we review safety procedures throughout our resort and continuously look for ways to improve our operations. 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.

The NTSB is the second agency to conduct an investigation on the accident; OSHA also looked into the incident which resulted in four citations and a monetary fine for Disney.


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