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BART fined nearly $220K in 2013 deaths of two workers

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(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner file photo)
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BART has been found guilty of “egregious” violations leading to the 2013 deaths of two workers and was fined almost $220,000, the California Public Utilities Commission announced Friday.

The commission, a state regulatory agency, issued a decision by an administrative law judge that fined the agency $659,000, stayed two-thirds of the fine and put BART on probation for three years in lieu of the stayed fine, PUC spokesperson Terrie Prosper said in a statement.

BART must pay the remaining one-third of the stayed fine, $219,666.67, to the state’s general fund within 60 days, the judge ruled.

BART has the option to appeal the decision. A call to a BART spokesperson was not immediately returned.

The decision was issued in response to an incident on Oct. 19, 2013 in which a BART train hit and killed a BART manager and a BART contractor who were working on the tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations, Prosper said.

At the time, victims Laurence Daniels, 66, and Christopher Sheppard, 58, were checking on a report of a dip in a stretch of trackway.

The train that struck the men was being operated by a person in training, under direct supervision of an experienced trainer. There were no passengers onboard, according to an NTSB report conducted after the incident.

Friday’s decision finds that BART violated multiple safety rules and concludes that the violation are egregious, because they were committed by BART’s top-level veteran managers and reflected BART’s organizational and management culture and attitudes toward safety at the time of the incident, Prosper said.

During the three-year probationary period, BART must meet four conditions. The agency must track violations of safety rules and details of corrective actions and submit them to the commission, Prosper said.

Within six months, BART must re-evaluate its safety training programs and start improving them, the judge ruled. Also within six months, the transit agency must develop refresher courses on its safety rules and culture for managers who enforce safety rules and put them into practice.

As part of this, BART must annually submit certifications for every manager who completed the refresher to the commission.

Also, BART must annually brief the commission on its annual safety report and all updates on its efforts to improve compliance with safety rules, the judge ruled.

During the three-year probationary period, the commission’s safety and enforcement division will monitor BART’s compliance with the decision. When the three years are up, the division will recommend whether or not to extend the probation.

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