Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Christopher Sheppard and Larry Daniels, the two BART workers killed by a BART train over the weekend.
The two BART workers were struck by a train along a stretch of tracks near Walnut Creek. They were dispatched to that location to investigate a dip in the tracks. The train that struck them was out of operation and transporting workers. BART employees went on strike the day before due to a labor dispute with management. Because of this, the train was in automatic mode and no engineer was directly at the controls, but BART stated that an “experience operator” was at the controls. The BART train was running as routine maintenance with non-union members operating the train. According to a BART union official, the men may not have known that trains would be running during the BART strike.
One of the workers killed was a member of AFSCME Local 3993, the BART labor union that was on strike. The other worker killed was a contractor. They have been identified as Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward and Laurence “Larry” Daniels, 66, of Oakland. In honor of the accident, the union did not picket the day after the accident, but continued the strike for two more days.
Both workers had decades of experience as rail engineers. Larry Daniels had published dozens of engineering papers and founded a company, Daniels Railroad Engineering. According to a colleague, Daniels and Sheppard “represented maybe 70 percent of BART’s expertise in track engineering, so they are taking an incredible hit when it comes to track engineering.”
The accident is under investigation by police and the National Transportation Safety Board. According to Paul Oversier, head of BART operations, the two workers should have been able to clear “the operating envelope within 15 seconds of when a train gets to their location.” Richard Stingily, a BART foreman stated, “It was a preventable accident. This is senseless and ridiculous. Our hearts go out to the families.” Ric Horrocks, a BART operator, added, “In order for someone to get killed basically everybody had to make a mistake.”
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