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Fatigue Blamed for Truck and Train Wreck

Closeup shot of a railway train tracks

Semi-truck drivers are supposed to follow tight federal regulations when it comes to how much they drive in a day. According to the Department of Transportation, they are allowed to drive 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off, or 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off. Of course, with the holiday season, there is much more demand and tighter schedules, causing truck drivers to drive much more than they should. This often leads to serious — and deadly — wrecks.

Such was the case in Southern California. At 5:44 a.m., a truck driver turned onto train tracks and was struck by a commuter train. The engineer was killed, and dozens more were injured. According to reports, the truck driver had been on duty for nearly 24 hours. His acute fatigue, in combination with his lack of familiarity with the area, have been blamed for the wreck.

Though the wreck happened in February of last year, the National Transportation Safety Board issued their final report on the matter earlier this month. The driver, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, attempted to get his truck off of the train tracks, and when that didn’t work, he ran as far as he could. He feared the fuel in his truck may explode.

Though his trip from Somerton, Arizona to Oxnard, California was only supposed to take 6 hours, he was delayed by radiator damage. He got a replacement truck, then was delayed again when he was sideswiped in Los Angeles. Sanchez-Ramirez was using hand-written directions and a navigation app. The app didn’t have information about railroad crossings; if it did, investigators believe he would’ve been less likely to turn onto the tracks.

Sanchez-Ramirez was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for the death of the 62-year-old engineer, Glenn Steele, then the longest-serving engineer for Metrolink.

Wrecks with big rigs can be devastating. If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident in Redlands, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at MBLK Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.