I can't imagine a situation, therefore, in which driver error would allow an accident like this to happen. It's been anticipated and the system designed to prevent such an incident from happening. That leads me to wonder about a catastrophic system error being at fault here.
I know it's too early to know about a cause, but I did want to reiterate that there was supposed to be a system in place to prevent exactly this type of accident.
I will send my condolences to the family of the pilot. But I am more thankful that there were not any guests in the nose of the train with the pilot. Could you imagine what a PR nightmare that would be for Disney World?
It will be interesting to see if ever what the exact cause of this accident was.
Does anyone know if the removed the trains from the track? And, does anyone know when the monorail may re-open?
Still, I can't imagine a zone intrusion sensor ever being shut down or overridden, unless the tracks were completely cleared by ops and turned over to maintenance.
I only knew him in passing at the Tower but was very excited the day he got transfered from RnR Coaster to Monorails. It was his dream job.
Regardless, it's definitely a tragedy. My family spent the 4th at MK and left by 11pm. Our trip from the TTC to MK on the monorail was a ride up front with the driver. I understand why these special rides may come to an end, at least for a while, so I'm glad my daughter got to experience it.
The driver killed sounds like someone who loved his job. I only hope he didn't suffer in this tragic accident. The pictures are just horrific. :-(
Its very sad a Cast Member died, but I was wondering why he was so young (21) and driving the monorail. I have never seen a young person run the monorail in my life. Really sad that a life was cut short so soon at such a happy place. The video is almost unwatchable due to its sadness now knowing what is happening.
This is going to be a nightmare for Disney World, along the lines of what the Columbia disaster was for Disneyland.
Like others have said here, Why would the monorail be running at 2am from EPCOT with passengers? I thought the only monorails running with service at that time were the MK Resort rails.
Why would Disney let a young person run the monorail. I been up in the front of the monorail atleast several times, and all the drivers look middle aged to older folks.
For the person who submitted anonymously, why would the pink train backup towards the TTC at full speed? Even if the pink driver thought that the purple train was waiting before going to the TTC, the pink driver would had slowed down, not go full speed.
The story so far sounds real fishy, with the passengers supposedly coming from EPCOT, with the young monorail driver. Who knows, maybe the one of the drivers was getting carried away and was speeding on the track. And trust me, I have been on the monorail where sometimes it feels like the train is going faster than normal, esp. during after park closing.
As for the timing or the age of the monorail driver, I don't know anything, but neither of those things seem particularly fishy to me. Certainly not fishy enough to start worrying about conspiracies or anything of the sort.
Also water craft and monorail postions are one of the most coveted positions to have at the WDW. They are second to being waiters and waitresses (or any tipped positions)! So he got put onto the list for transfer and when someone retired or terminated he got selected to go. Those 3 positons have huge transfer lists and he was the next one. Those positions also have very low turnover compared to atractions, housekeeping, food and beverage and especially custodial so I wouldnt be surprise if you see older people work those positions because you just dont leave them! He probably would have stayed there for a very long time!
Age is a bocus excuse!!!
That still is the youngest driver of the monorail I have ever seen or heard. Still very sad! If Dan is correct, which I think he is, this guy really sounded like he knew and loved his job. Interesting tidbit about monorail drivers. I would have never thought it was a coveted job. From seeing the pay scales for a majority of park roles, it pays pretty well comparativly!
I don't think this will be as much of a nightmare as Columbia at Disneyland due to few guests and it happening at 2am.
I think they might have turned off the safety features to put them away, but who knows.
Since this was an operational screw-up, made possible by the monorail's design, Disney faces scrutiny from OSHA and the state of Florida... heck, is it possible that even the NTSB could be involved? And that's before the inevitable court case, should Disney not overwhelm the victim's family with a multi-million dollar preemptive settlement.
The Columbia accident led the state of California to implement state oversight of theme park attraction safety. Could this lead Florida to tighten the leash on Reedy Creek? Granted, the Florida legislature is much less critical of business management than California's, but a public investigation of a fatal accident that was 100 percent the company's fault can change a political environment. Whether it does to make any lasting changes to state oversight of Disney's Florida operations does not minimize the headache that this incident will be causing for Disney's management for months, perhaps years, to come.
Robert on a side note if you could please answer this question how old were you when you did the keel rafts to Tow Sawyer's Island?
Let's remember that you can drive cars at 16 in most states, and join the armed forces at 18. I'm not worried about a 21-year-old driving monorails. Heck, a 19-year-old just won a Sprint Cup NASCAR race, and I'd say that's a heckuva lot more dangerous than driving a Disney monorail. And, again, the 21-year-old victim was not in any way at fault, given what we've heard so far. Now, we don't know who was at fault, or their ages or experience (or how many hours they'd been working that day).
Those factors might turn out to be relevant. Or not. We just don't know yet.
That said, though, when I wrote my piece last Monday, I should have mentioned that certain attractions did have limits on where you could work after a certain number of hours on the job. After a certain number of hours (8 or 10 - I don't remember), you couldn't work tower at Thunder, for example, so you'd have to bump around that position if you were on a double shift there. I would assume that a similar restriction would be in place on monorail drivers and tower ops.
I always tried to pull my double shifts at parade audience control, because that basically required little more than socializing with guests, something I found refreshing at the end of a long day. It certainly did not require any mechanical work.
It's so hard to believe that this could happen on the WDW monorail. My experience of this particular mode of transport at Disneyworld, over the last 13 years, has been that it is the safest transport system anywhere. Considering the number of passengers it carries the monorail must have an excellent safety record. From Robert's comments it sounds as if the system has a " dead man's handle" in operation where the train stops if a driver become incapacitated. This is consistent with most train networks. So how could this happen ?
Despite all of this a young life has been sadly lost and we'll await the outcome of the investigation.
Just a thought.
Surely if they had these items available they should have installed them before.I can't see how assessing changes needed, then ordering, then having them delivered then fitting them, can be done in 24 hours, unless it was all on site and available anyway.
Its such a shame that it takes a tragedy before they are installed.
I guess the old saying' If it ain't broke don't fix it" springs to mind!
It just annoys me that disney would work them so hard. This day, he was working a 14 hour shift (which disney tried to coverup until a friend pulled his facebook page for the news to see) the day before he worked a 12 hour shift. during peak seasons, college program is given 14 our shifts about 5 to 6 days a week (only 5 if you have a disney given college course or religous reasons)days like that, scheduling would give you a 8 hour period in between(so they cant pay you extra for a double shift), but that isnt even enough! getting home, you need to be transported to the cast bus area, which you need to wait for room on a bus, b/c everyone leaves the same time, once you get on the shuttle, you need to wait for your special bus to transport you to the apartment areas. the whole process can take forever. then in the morning, you have to do the whole thing over again, but the opposite way around. the only sleeping time, is on the bus rides. Dont even think about being one minute late, because you get points which give you reprimands, 3 reprimands (9 points) gets you terminated. we were forced to "call out sick" just so we can get a day of sleep, its rediculous. I was actually sent to the hospital as a cp, because my feet were getting cut up bad from standing in the rain (worked an outdoor ride during hurricane season) all day long everyday.
Sounds very paniced and confused. 911 operator should have sent, and advised that emergency response was being sent straight away.
EDIT** After listening to this again I'm actually shocked at the 911 operator.The callers have obviously been told by a supervisor to call 911 due to the nature of the incident and in circumstances like that there is no time to find out exactly what went on, number f guests involved, fatalities etc, just call and get emergency response there immediately.Considering this is Disney Property and Disney has the largest gathering of people in, no doubt, the world, especially at the tail end of July 4th, he should have seriously advised that ER was on way rather than making them go and find out exactly how bad the situation was.The 911 op needs to be taken off of the phones and re-trained immediately.And I'm pretty sure I"m right in guessing that Disney, along with Universal, bypass the regular 911 callng system and therefore the 911 op shouldn't hesitate in sending someone out.
If it were me and I heard Monorail and incident I'd be despatching before I found out the magnitude of it all!
From reports I've read and watched emergency crews did not arrive for 10-15 mins to the scene. If this is true that is unacceptable especially knowing firestations and routes etc. are planned to have a 5 minute or less response time.
My deepest sympathy at this time goes out to family and friends of the Pilot.
Here is a thought for Disney, honor and remember Austin by putting in a memorial at the station or renaming it in his honor as it is only fitting.
- The emergency services are unhappy with their response- Disney is unhappy that this could be linked to job cuts- Florida commerce unhappy with bad publicity
A lot of the stories will no be played down or talked over.
The whole situation regarding the new sensors and verification process sounds like a plan to monitor the actual operation of the trains, ensure dispatch mistakes are checked, and possibly building up a case regarding a bad dispatcher call causing the reversing incident.
I am also concerned by the short memories of the media - forgetting the 1985 monorail fire or the 1966 WDL fatality on the monorail - smells like Six Flags again, with white wash being applied hurriedly to avoid major bad PR.
"Two passenger trains collided in Washington DC, on the afternoon of June 22, 2009. At least seven people were killed and over 70 people were injured."
September 13, 2008 - "Rescue teams worked frantically into this morning after a Metrolink passenger train carrying 225 people collided Friday with a Union Pacific freight train on a sharp curve in Chatsworth, killing at least 17 people and leaving more than 135 injured."
July 3, 2009: "Italy's state railway company suspended GATX Corp. from transporting freight in the country after a June 29 accident, pictured right, that killed 19 people."
June 28, 2009: "CHICAGO - When derailed freight train cars carrying ethanol burst into flames just 50 miles from her Chicago suburb, killing a motorist who tried to flee, Barrington (Ill.) Mayor Karen Darch saw her worst fears realized."
We mourn the loss of the young man and send our prayers to his family and friends. We encourage qualified parties and agencies to investigate the cause of this tragedy and hold anyone who may be negligent accountable.
However, having acknowledged this, in all fairness, it should be noted that, as a means of mass transportation, the Walt Disney World monorail system's safety record is exceptional -- due to the efforts of the company and its cast members.
Regarding the 911 dispatcher and response: There is a piece of information that you may not have. 911 dispatchers can dispatch fire, medical, police with a click of a button and normally do so immediately after confirming the location. You cannot tell from voice recordings when this was done. The dispatcher on the phone with the caller is NOT the person that speaks with emergency personell. That role is usually a supervisor or lead dispatcher. The 911 dispatcher's role is to keep people on the phone and gather as much additional information as possible which is then fed to the emergency team enroute. Disneyworld has their own phone company for the property and if the emergency call came from a park phone they immediately know where to dispatch without hesitation. If the call came from a cell phone it would go to an external 911 call center and could induce additional delays.
Taking 10-15 minutes to arrive is totally within reason. If you have been to Disneyworld you know how spread out the place is. A racing emergency vehicle would have to contend with other guest vechicles and Disney buses. If you have driven around Disneyworld you know that guest drivers frequently get in the way as they navigate the roads and signage on the property. Hopefully park security and first aid were the first to arrive anyway. There is a first aid station in the buildings at the side of the Transportation and Ticket Center.
There are several safety systems on the monorail system that keep the monorails seperated from each other. If a driver trips the system during check out they will not be approved as a driver. If they trip the system twice in their career they are reassigned. There are also speed limiters and braking limiters. This controls the top speed and also keeps the driver from braking too fast and knocking all those standing guests to the floor. But this is not a problem because of the safety system that keeps the monorails seperated. I believe it requires management or park maintenance level to override the safety system.
I have read speculation that Austin was texting, sleeping, inexperienced, etc. I find this speculation pathetic. Even if he was the safety system would have prevented the crash the crash.
Right now Austin, the other drivers, the dock supervisors, park guests that witnessed the accident and the children on the monorail ALL require and deserve our prayers, support and respect. I have ridden in the nose cone many times. The EPCOT run was my favorite. I am very saddened that something like this happened at my personal favorite place on earth. But the Disney employees and monorail safety records are unmatched anywhere in the world.