VIDEO: Driver on phone contributed to crash at ‘confusing’ Langley railway crossing

A 87-year-old woman died in the collision

LIVE: The Transportation Safety Board releases its findings into the 2015 Langley train-ambulance collision that killed one and injured two:

Posted by BCLocalNews.com on Thursday, July 13, 2017

A confusing railway crossing and a driver on their cellphone were the the causes behind a deadly collision between a train and an ambulance in 2015.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation revealed that a combination of the ambulance driver being on their cellphone, as well as confusing railway crossing signals and faded road markings were the factors behind the fatal crash.

“Accidents are almost never caused by one factor and this was no exception,” said senior human factors investigator Sarah Harris. “Although the distraction of the cellphone likely decreased the drivers ability to detect warning signals, the complex design of the crossing also contributed.”

RELATED: Train hits ambulance in Langley, fatally injuring senior

On Sept. 11, 2015, an ambulance was hit by a freight train at a railway cross at 216th Street and Glover Road. The patient, 87-year-old Helena Theodora Van Gool of Langley, was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital but later died. The two paramedics were injured. No train crew members were hurt.

Citing privilege, the board did not release the contents of, or any details from, the phone call. The report stated that the conversation was “complex.”

“Regardless of that and regardless of how long the conversations lasted and regardless of whether the phone was hands free or not, research has shown that this activity is distracted,” said investigator-in-charge Peter Hickli.

Harris said that double lines of railway crossings at the site of the crash, along with “contradictory” crossing markings contributed to the driver’s inability to avoid the train. The ambulance had been intending to make a lefthand turn but stopped on one set tracks when a lowered crossing gate for the opposite lane appeared to be blocking the way forward. The investigation revealed that the lowered gate would not have blocked the ambulance from driving forward, off the railroad tracks it was on.

“One possibility is that the red flashing railway lights on the righthand side may have been momentarily obscured by a crossing sign,” said Harris.

RELATED: ‘Confusing’ rail crossing should be changed — TSB

An intersection shortly after the crossing could have added to the confusion.

“These lights are designed to stay briefly green despite an approaching train in order to flush any remaining traffic from the interesection,” Harris said. “Add to this the faded roadway markings, specifically the left turn lane, which likely helped bring the ambulance in proximity to the [crossing].”

This isn’t the first crash at this railways crossing; there have been three prior incidents.

“In 2015, this crossing was identified [by Transport Canada] as one of the crossings of highest concern in B.C.,” said Hickli. However, new safety regulations – since implemented – were only released in 2014, giving all railways and road authorities a two years to determine which crossings needed upgrades and an additional five-year grace period in which to implement them.

“Flashing lights have been installed overhead for greater visibility, some roadway markings have been repainted and an LED sign warning of approaching trains has been added,” said Hickli.

The flashing lights and gate that control eastbound traffic were also moved to cover both tracks, Hickli noted, but warned drivers that improved sight lines, crossing signals and road makings can only do so much to prevent tragedies.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Man in mid-20s killed in targeted shooting in Abbotsford

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

Ts’elxwéyeqw tribe captures the art of its historical storytelling with new book

“Being Ts’elxwéyeqw” is launching on Friday, Jan. 26 at the Stó:lō Resource Centre

Smoking device likely the cause Chilliwack townhouse fire

Smoke and fire damage but no one was hurt in fire on Vedder Road

Chilliwack board of education asks Neufeld to resign

Neufeld says he intends to stay on as trustee, as even education minister asks him to resign

Friends filling a fridge with love in Chilliwack

Meal Train helping family enjoy more moments together following cancer diagnosis

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Police arrest pair after ‘high-risk vehicle takedown’

Vancouver police say replica handgun found in alleged suspects’ vehicle

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Most Read