Trucking accidents are not usually matters of federal interest, yet in a recent court case this is just what happened. A federal judge in Reno has ordered John Davis Trucking to provide a truck of the same make and model as the one involved in a recent semi versus train collision in Reno.
Attorneys for John Davis Trucking, as well as for Amtrak and the Union Pacific Railroad, were in Reno in late June to inspect the debris that resulted from a crash which took six lives. The replacement vehicle was also inspected, to compare it against the debris from the site of the accident.
The US Magistrate, Valerie Cooke, further ordered that the data recorder of the trains be provided as well. These items, commonly called black boxes, contain extensive details of a train’s operations. They are hardened to exceptional levels of protection, so that they will likely survive to provide crucial data for investigators following a train accident such as the one in Reno.
No one is yet sure why the accident happened. All that is known is semi driver Lawrence Reuben Valli was operating his vehicle as he approached a train track. He did not stop for the crossing beams, but drove through them and into the side of the train. The resulting collision unleashed a fireball that consumed both the cab of Mr. Valli’s truck and several passenger cars on the Amtrak Zephyr train. Valli was killed instantly, and five passengers present on the train died as well.
Further complicating matters, there are several lawsuits being prepared by the parties in the accident. The trucking company is suing Amtrak, alleging that the train service failed to maintain a safe crossing. This despite the fact that the posts were clearly lowered and the driver went through them at speed. Amtrak is suing John Davis Trucking, claiming that they clearly did not provide proper training or certification to their drivers, leading to the accident.