Muni accident probe to focus on operator

Two reports so far have found no evidence that mechanical or braking failures led to the June 14 crash of two Muni light-rail trains.

On June 14, a T-Third rear-ended an N-Judah that was stopped at a signal near AT&T Park. The crash injured 16 people, sent 12 people to the hospital and caused between $1.2 million and $1.5 million in damages to the vehicles involved.

“Though our investigation is continuing, we have taken a careful look at the tracks, the signals and the vehicles, and we have so far found no mechanical issues that might have caused the collision,” San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said in a statement. “We will take all appropriate steps based on the results of the investigation.”

Another report into the incident, conducted by the California Public Utilities Commission, the state body that governs light-rail vehicle matters, detailed similar findings.

“Our investigation has eliminated mechanical malfunctions and brake malfunctions,” CPUC spokeswoman Susan Carothers said. “We are now concentrating on the operation of the vehicle.”

An onboard mechanical device and eyewitness accounts by Muni officials determined that the T-Third train operated by Bradley Bradley was traveling 17 mph in a 3 mph zone before colliding with the N-Judah train.

Due to privacy rules, Muni officials could not comment if Bradley was at fault in the collision.

Muni officials also are examining whether Bradley was talking on his cell phone while operating the train. Footage from a surveillance camera aboard the train showed Bradley holding a phone in his hand after the crash.

Bradley has been employed as an operator with the SFMTA since 2003, when he joined the department’s bus division. He transferred to the agency’s light-rail division in 2004.

If he is found at fault for the collision, he will go before a three-person accident review board, made up of one SFMTA member, one Transport Workers Union memberand one independent member.

The board would determine appropriate disciplinary measures for Bradley, according to SFMTA documents.

Muni officials said they have yet to determine where the funds to fix the two trains, which have been out of service since the accident, will come from.

So far, no injury claims have been filed against The City as a result of the accident, although victims have up to six months to send in paperwork, according Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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