Trucking company blames railroads for deadly crash

Lawyers for John Davis Trucking Co. said in court documents that Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad were responsible for a June crash where one of the fleet’s drivers slammed into an Amtrak train east of Reno killling five, including the truck driver

Lawyers for John Davis Trucking Co. said in court documents that Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad were responsible for a June crash where one of the fleet’s drivers slammed into an Amtrak train east of Reno killling five, including the truck driver.

The documents said the rail companies failed to properly warn drivers on U.S. 95 that they were approaching a rail crossing, according to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal.

As a result of the railroad companies’ alleged “failure to exercise due care with respect to the railroad crossing, (driver Lawrence) Valli was inadequately warned, resulting in him being unable to stop the truck he was operating at the time to avoid colliding with the Amtrak train,” which was traveling more than 75 mph, the trucking company said in response to a lawsuit filed by Lana Dickerson, an Amtrak worker on the train who was injured.

“As a result ... Valli was killed and the truck he was driving was destroyed,” the trucking company said in its response filed last week. The truck’s value topped $120,000, the document said.

Dickerson’s lawsuit is one of seven filed in Washoe District Court following the June 25 truck/train accident. Dickerson was an attendant on the train and tried to escape the flames from the accident through the door on the front end of the car she was in, but could not get out because the door was locked, according to her complaint.

The lawsuit claims Amtrak was negligent for locking the door and blocking the escape of numerous passengers and crew. The suit also claims John Davis Trucking was negligent because one of its drivers “failed to yield the right of way to the oncoming train.”

John Davis Trucking, Amtrak and Union Pacific have sued each other in federal court as well.

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and a report is expected to be released next year detailing the cause if the crash.

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