Why the Southwest Chief Derailed.

“You can’t fix stupid.”
Ron White, comedian
It seems pretty clear that the cause of the Southwest Chief accident a few nights ago was just plain old-fashioned stupidity. The Chief was heading east and in the vicinity of Dodge City, Kansas, when it derailed, injuring about 30 people, two or three of whom had to be hospitalized.
Of lesser importance, but still of concern given Amtrak’s chronic shortage of equipment, four or five of the Superliner cars fell onto their sides and were, one has to assume, severely damaged.
accident pic
 And how did this mess come about? Evidently, the driver of a truck carrying cattle feed drove across the tracks, which moved the rails out of alignment. Mind you, since this was NOT at a grade crossing, we have to assume that this bozo apparently decided to take a short cut to wherever he was going and simply drove— thump, thump—OVER the tracks. The Amtrak engineer saw what appeared to be a misalignment with one of the rails and immediately applied the emergency braking, but it was way too late, of course.
According to media reports, the company that owns the truck has been very cooperative. Well, good for them, but the fact is, it’s their driver … it’s their truck … and they’re screwed.
I understand mechanical failures. Stuff happens … like the valve failing on VIA Rail (yesterday’s post). But not this one. Human error? No way.
Ron White got it right.