This spring, Austinite Jeremy Barta was killed when a MetroRail commuter train collided with his car while it was stuck on the tracks at a private rail crossing. Barta’s two children also suffered in the accident. The train engineer was cleared in an internal Cap Metro investigation, despite a malfunction of the train’s camera system.
In a report today, the Austin American-Statesman raises new questions about the crash.
According to police reports, the engineer didn’t immediately apply the brakes as soon as he saw the car on the tracks:
The engineer, Kazi Adnan Jahangir, 43, applied the train's emergency brakes and sounded the horn and bells only after realizing that the white Ford Taurus, driven by Jeremy Barta, might not move off the tracks, the documents said.
Statesman reporter Ben Wear also compares the braking distance of the train with where Barta’s car was found, providing an estimate of where the train might have been in relation to the car when it began braking:
The 134-foot-long train was going 40 mph before braking, according to an electronic train log included in the police documents, and took about 10 seconds to come to a stop. …
At that speed, a MetroRail train should take about 325 feet to stop, according to data from the manufacturer, Stadler Bussnang AG, a Swiss company, indicating that it might have been as close as 100 feet from Barta's car before Jahangir applied the brakes.
Since the collision, Cap Metro has promised to install warning lights at private rail crossings.