Monorail Accident at Walt Disney World
Jul 5, 2009
Two monorails collided early Sunday morning leaving one driver dead. Emergency crews were called to one of the monorail stops at 2 a.m. after receiving reports of two monorails colliding. Reports suggest that the train was leaving Epcot and was arriving at the Ticket and Transportation Center. According to witnesses, one monorail ran into another stationary train. One of the drivers, Austin Wuennenberg (21), was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was taken to the hospital, but did not have serious injuries. A family of six were the only passengers on the train. They were evaluated by paramedics, but were uninjured and released at the scene. This is the first fatal accident in the Walt Disney World monorail system's history. Officials are still working to determine the cause of the collision.
The monorail system reopened on July 6th after receiving OSHA clearance.
Update: On July 5th, 2009 at 2:00am, monorail Pink was performing a switching maneuver from the EPCOT beam to Express beam which requires driving backwards through the switch. While doing so, the anti-collision or “MAPO” system is over-ridden. At the same time, monorail Purple was holding outside the station on the EPCOT beam and given clearance into the station. The collision occurred due to the switch operator not moving the switch for Pink, therefore causing it to drive in reverse in MAPO over-ride still on the EPCOT beam and collide with Purple, killing the pilot.
Since the accident, Disney has updated their operating procedures to prevent this kind of accident from happening again. Unfortunately it also means, due to both liability and the potential distraction caused to the pilot, guests are no longer allowed to ride up front.
For more information on the monorail safety system, read this article on Wikipedia. (Please be aware that Wikipedia is a user-driven website)