Truck driver

Widow of Truck Driver Killed in Amtrak Collision Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over ‘Ultra-Dangerous’ Railroad Crossing

The widow of a man killed when the truck he was driving was hit by an Amtrak train this week filed a wrongful death lawsuit. In the suit, Erin Barton alleges that the Missouri crossing where Billy Dean Barton II died was “ultra-dangerous”, in part due to the defendants’ failure to maintain the intersection.

The first of the two defendants is Mariano Rodriguez, an official in the engineering department of the BNSF railroad. Rodriguez is responsible for ensuring “proper safety, inspection and maintenance” of crossings like the one near Mendon, the lawsuit says.

But the widow alleges he didn’t, citing the crossing’s “sight triangles”, an “excessively small crossing angle” and other deficiencies including “sloping approaches, brush, trees and vegetation blocking a full view of the approaching trains in some quadrants.” She said “the crossing surfaces were narrow, rough and poorly maintained”.

A photo of the derailed Amtrak train in Missouri.

Ron Goulet

Additionally, the crossing had no “bells, gates or lights” to warn vehicles of an approaching train – there were only crossbucks or signs indicating the tracks were open. nearby, indicates the costume.

“These conditions at the crossing created an ultra-dangerous crossing,” the suit reads, adding that the conditions had been like this for years.

The lawsuit cited the fact that it takes trains a long time – possibly up to a mile – to come to a complete stop. “This fact makes properly guarded, inspected and maintained level crossings essential for safety,” he says.

Given these alleged safety concerns, Rodriguez “knew or should have known that the Porch crossing posed a serious danger to the public,” the lawsuit said.

On June 27, those failures culminated in the fatal collision and derailment, according to the lawsuit. Erin Barton’s husband was driving a dump truck through the crossing and “did not see or hear the train coming with adequate warning to cross the tracks safely”.

The accident killed him and three other people on the train, which was carrying nearly 300 people from Los Angeles to Chicago. Many others were injured in the incident.

At least 3 dead in Amtrak train derailment


Erin Barton is seeking $25,000 and prejudgment interest for costs incurred in filing the lawsuit.

She is also suing Chariton County, Missouri, where the accident took place, for the same compensation. The lawsuit alleges the county failed in its duty to properly design, inspect and maintain its roads, including the crossing approaches. He says the county also violated several traffic standards.

Prior to the crash, residents had reported several issues at the crossing to the county highway authority, the lawsuit said. Therefore, according to the lawsuit, the county was aware of the issues and its negligence “caused or directly contributed” to Barton’s death.

This is the first lawsuit reported following the accident. More than 10 victims of the derailment, including the family of a deceased man, have hired attorneys “to represent their interests,” a separate law firm said in a statement to CBS News.

Sixteen investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene trying to determine the cause of the accident, Chairman Jennifer Homendy said Wednesday. They will download the train’s event recorder and examine the train’s two forward-facing cameras as well as the dump truck’s electronic control module.

She said the NTSB has been recommending “for a number of years” that passive crossings, like the one near Mendon, either be converted to active crossings, closed or consolidated. She also pointed to a 1998 NTSB study that recommended that vehicles have technology that would alert drivers of trains in the area.

Amtrak said Monday night it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the deaths, adding it was cooperating with local authorities.

On Thursday, Amtrak and railroad company BNSF, which owns the track on which the collision occurred, sued Barton’s employer and dump truck owner, MS Contracting, alleging he was responsible for the accident and accusing the company of negligence.

The lawsuit claims that Barton “failed to yield the right of way to the oncoming Amtrak Southwest Chief Train 4” which led to the collision. He deemed his actions “dangerous, reckless and reckless”. He faulted the company for not “negligently, negligently and recklessly” training Barton properly and maintaining the truck.

The crash injured and killed Amtrak employees and passengers, significantly damaged property belonging to both companies, and caused delays and service disruptions, according to the lawsuit.

Amtrak and BNSF have reported more than $75,000 in damages from the accident, and they are each seeking payment of more than $75,000 in the lawsuit.