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NTSB releases documents related to fatal Walt Disney World monorail accident

22 November 2010 by Disney Travel Examiner

On Nov. 22, 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made public a docket of documents pertaining to its investigation into the fatal monorail accident that occurred at Walt Disney World Resort on July 5, 2009.

The monorail accident involved a collision between two between two monorail trains and resulted in the death of one of the monorail operators, Austen Wuennenberg. Wunnenberg, 21, of Kissimee, died of multiple injuries in the crash, which occurred when the monorail purple train he was operating was hit by the monorail pink train.

The accident occurred near the park's closing and the monorail trains were being positioned for the night. The operator of the pink train had been given clearance to drive the pink monorail train, in reverse, to a Spur Line. A track switch had not been aligned properly, however, leaving pink train traveling on the same track as the purple train.

NTSB’s docket on the Disney monorail accident, which can be viewed here, includes more than 60 documents and hundreds of pages of information: maintenance records and schedules, operation manuals and checklists, inspection reports, and training files. Also part the released docket are written statements and transcribed interviews with Disney employees, including the operator of the monorail pink train, the shop panel operator, the mechanical supervisor, and the monorail train coordinator.

In his interview, Alan Rubino, who was operating the pink monorail train, told investigators he was going about 13 miles an hour at the time of collision. “I felt the boom,” Rubino said. “I didn’t know what happened at first. I had no idea whatsoever.”

Rubino initially thought perhaps a door had come off, but then realized the train wasn’t near the Base toward the Spur Line, the train’s intended destination. He then learned the pink train had hit the purple train.

Christine Wunnenberg, Austin’s mother, has filed a civil suit against Disney. Her suit claims the monorail manager David Gilmore concealed his location from his employees; Gilmore was not on-site at the time of the accident. Had he been on site in the concourse tower, Christine Wunnenberg claims, Gilmore would have seen that the pink monorail train was directed to take a collision course with the purple train.

The NTSB says the Walt Disney World monorail crash remains under investigation.



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