The National Transportation Safety Board has released the full docket for their investigation on the collision between Monorail Pink and Monorail Purple at Walt Disney World on July 5, 2009 which resulted in the death of monorail operator Austin Wuennenberg. The docket, which can be found here, consists of dozens of documents and several hundred pages including interviews, charts, maintenance records, inspection reports and more. Amongst the interviews is one with the operator of the other train involved in the crash, Alan Rubino, who recounts operating Monorail Pink in reverse at approximately 13mph when it collided with Monorail Purple.
This represents the first time in its history that the NTSB has gotten involved in a private transportation system.
The Monorail skin advertising the upcoming TRON Legacy film from Walt Disney Studios has made its debut today on the Epcot circuit at the Walt Disney Resort as demonstrated here by this photo courtesy of Disney.
Also, we now have some excellent footage of the ‘TRONorail’ in action courtesy of Ricky from Inside the Magic:
According to the Courthouse News Service, Christine P. Wuennenberg, mother of the cast member killed in an accident involving two of Walt Disney World’s monorail trains in July, has filed a wrongful death claim in Orange County Court.
The claim asserts that Disney was aware of the dangers of the functions being performed at the time and deliberately ignored safety procedures enacted by Disney itself as well as disobeyed explicit warnings included in the operations manual provided by the manufacturer.
According to the complaint, Disney commonly forced pilots to disregard the guide, “as it did not want to keep customers waiting, which would impact the ability for Walt Disney to maximize profits.”
The complaint also goes to mention that a monorail coordinator was supposed to be stationed at the command center to direct and visually confirm monorail traffic, but on the night of the collision he was at a restaurant, and was “falsely reporting via two-way radio … that they were receiving visual confirmation … thereby misleading the monorail operators into believing that it was safe and appropriate” to reverse the monorail onto the other line.”
Monorail Teal will soon be making its debut at Walt Disney World after being constructed from undamaged parts of Monorail Pink and Monorail Purple which collided this past summer, resulting in the death of Monorail pilot Austin Wuennenberg.
This will bring the fleet up to 11 trains, joining Red, White, Coral, Lime, Green, Black, Silver, Blue, Gold and Orange. Out of respect to Wuennenberg and his family, Pink and Purple will officially be retired.
The NTSB is still conducting its investigation into the incident but has publically acknowledged Disney’s proper conduct following the tragedy.
Several outlets reported today that the mother of Austin Wuennenberg, the Disney Monorail operator who was killed in a tragic collision on July 4, had filed a petition earlier in the week for a Pure Bill of Discovery. The petition, filed on behalf of Christine Wuennenberg, requested she have access to evidence that Disney may be in possession of in regards to the incident including video of the Monorails, audio communication and ‘black box’ data. Wuennenberg’s lawyers also requested access to the complete list of witnesses, employees involved in Monorail operation and logs of said employee’s whereabouts for months leading up to the crash. The petition cited a concern that evidence ‘may be destroyed, erased and/or altered.’ An alternate request to insure that Disney did not destroy any potential evidence was also made.
While no official signed order denying the request has been filed as of yet, electronic court records indicate that the request has been denied. No determination has been made in terms of the alternate request as of yet.
This article which covers the rulings thus far also goes on to explain the challenges involved in a successful wrongful death suit against an employer in the state of Florida, suggesting that the standard of proof may be higher than even that of manslaughter.
NTSB Releases Factual Information on its Investigation of the Monorail Collision at Walt Disney World
The National Transportation Safety Board has developed the following factual information from its investigation of the collision of two trains on the monorail system at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, that occurred early Sunday morning:
At about 2 a.m. on July 5th, a Walt Disney World monorail train, designated the Pink train, backed into another monorail train, designated the Purple train, near the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) monorail station. The operator of the Purple train was fatally injured; the six passengers on that train were treated at the scene. The operator of the Pink train, who was transported to the hospital, treated and released, was the only one aboard that train at the time of the collision.
Prior to the accident, the Pink train had been instructed to detrain all passengers at the TTC station and then to operate without passengers past the station and a switch to a point where the train could be backed through the track switch from the Epcot loop over to the Magic Kingdom loop. The operator of the Pink train moved the train past the track switch and stopped.
The Pink train was then instructed to back through the track switch, towards the Magic Kingdom loop. At about the same time, the Purple train, which was inbound to the TTC station, was instructed to stop at the station to detrain passengers. For undetermined reasons that are currently under investigaton, the switch had not changed position needed to allow the Pink train to be routed to the Magic Kingdom loop, which resulted in the Pink train backing down the same track it had just come from, putting it on a collision course with the Purple train. The Pink train passed through the TTC station and struck the Purple train while it was outside the station.
There are indications that the operator of the Purple train had brought the train to a stop and had attempted to put the train in reverse prior to the collision. To this point in the investigation, no anomalies or malfunctions have been found with the automatic train stop system or with any mechanical components of the switch or with either of the trains.
The on-scene phase of the investigation is expected to continue for several days.
The parties to the investigation are Walt Disney World, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Orange County Sherriff’s Office, and the Transportation and Communications International Union.
WKMG, Channel 6 in Orlando, is reporting that at around 2 am Sunday morning, a monorail (reported as Pink) collided into Monorail Purple which was not moving at the time at the Ticket and Transportation Center, killing the driver on impact. No other injuries have been reported and no further details are currently available.
Update: The incident happened on the Epcot track according to reports; monorail service to Epcot has been suspended on July 5 pending an investigation. Presumably bus service will be offered in lieu of monorail service to Epcot where applicable.
Miniature artist Robert Olszewski will be on hand at the Disneyana Shop in Main Street, USA in Disneyland on July 17, 2009 from 9 AM – 11 AM to sign his latest piece, the Monorail Mark I, commemorating the attraction’s 50th anniversary.
There will be two initial versions of the sculpture. An Annual Passholder’s version will be limited to only 100 pieces while the Open Edition version will be stamped ‘First Edition’ for its first 12 months of production.
Features of the Monorail Mark I sculpture include:
* Removable Monorail Mark I sculpture. Sculpture details include clear windows to see in front and back. Magnets used to hold Monorail onto rails.
* The columns feature attraction posters
* Lighting turned on and off by trash can on right front
The Monorail Mark I sculpture is available for $95, plus tax. Sculpture and Base Size: 8″W x 3 7/8′ D x 3 1/2″T (Monorail is approximately 6 1/2″ L x 1/2″W x 5/8″T.
Online ordering commences 8 AM PT on Wednesday, July 1. Shipping and handling fees plus any applicable sales tax will apply. To order the Annual Passholder edition beginning July 1, click here. For the Open Edition version, click here.