Sunday, July 5, 2009

Monorail Trains Collide; 1 Dead

(Please note that if you've been checking this page throughout the day, the linked Orlando Sentinel article has been updated fairly frequently, so if you haven't clicked it since this morning it's definitely worth checking out again.)

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that two Walt Disney World monorails on the Epcot line collided last night, killing one pilot and sending another to the hospital. A few remaining guests were on the trains when they collided but none were injured.

The deceased driver is 21-year-old Austin Wuennenberg of Kissimmee.

The Sentinel goes on to quote a witness who claims that one monorail was traveling faster than normal right before the accident. There are also unconfirmed reports that one of the monorails may have backed into the other while attempting to switch tracks from the Epcot line to the Magic Kingdom line.

The Walt Disney World monorail system has a fail safe measure designed to stop such an incident. When one train approaches too close to another it is supposed to stop automatically. Obviously this system did not work properly last night.

In fact, this is the first fatal accident in the line's 38-year history.

While this is only speculation, it is well known that holiday periods are often used by cast members to accumulate large amounts of "overtime" hours. In fact, this was discussed by Robert Niles in his Theme Park Insider blog this past week. Niles mentioned that many cast members would attempt to work two or three consecutive shifts in one day. Once again, only speculation, but it is possible that this was one cause of the crash (especially since the crash took place at 2am.)

Neither monorail line was in operation on Sunday as the investigation into the crash continued.

The cause of the crash is not yet determined but we'll be following the story and updating this page with details as they come in.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the cast members and their families.

There is a video of the immediate aftermath of the incident circulating from Click Orlando. (WARNING: This video is somewhat disturbing.) WESH News from Orlando has a slideshow of photos from the incident.

This story is also being reported by...

UPDATED 10:00pm

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