A LIRR train engineer lets an untrained passenger drive his 500-ton double-decker trainthrough Queens, New York and personal injury lawyers are wondering why this 20-year train veteran was so thoughtless about the 400 riders who were unwillingly and unknowingly along for the ride.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK— August 10, 2009 – Reckless endangerment charges are being filed against a Long Island Rail Road engineer and the passenger he allegedly let drive a train during rush hour. Almost 400 riders were carried along at speeds of up to 80 mph with William Kutsch, an individual completely unqualified to drive a train, at the controls, enraging personal injury lawyers in New York City. The engineer, a 20-year veteran LIRR employee, has also been charged with official misconduct.
In New York, personal injury lawyers are astounded that this incident would occur. If something had happened, it would have been a tremendous tragedy. Kutsch drove the train through seven car crossings, one pedestrian crossing, and 24 home signals during his 24-mile ride.
“In a way, I can emphasize with the situation, who among us has never wanted to drive a train?” says David Perecman, a New York personal injury lawyer. “However, these are lives of real people that were put in jeopardy to play out a fantasy. It’s truly an unconscionable situation.”
The charges were announced by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice on Wednesday. According to Rice, “the men’s actions created a substantial risk of serious physical injury,” especially for the riders.
Authorities began investigating the incident after uneasy passengers reported to them that the engineer was standing in the aisle while an un-uniformed individual was driving the 500-ton diesel-powered, double-decker train. The passenger did not have an engineer’s license or any formal train driving experience. He drove the train for 24 miles. Reportedly, there was no autopilot function on the train meaning that the passenger was actually in charge of the controls.
The reckless endangerment charge is considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
Disciplinary proceedings being taken by the LIRR against the engineer could result in his termination. He was removed from service the day of the incident after the commuter rail found out about the allegation.
“It’s truly disturbing to think that an engineer would allow someone to drive a train on what amounts to a joyride,” adds Perecman, a New York personal injury lawyer based in Manhattan. “The breech of trust between the riders and the official employee is enormous.”
One wonders how this incident will affect the other passengers long-term, emotionally and psychologically. Many New York City personal injury lawyers, including Perecman, are curious about that.
About David Perecman and The Perecman Firm, PLLC:
For the past 25 years, the New York personal injury lawyers, construction accident, auto accident and medical malpractice lawyers at The Perecman Firm, PLLC have championed all types of cases for personal injury accidents. David Perecman, founder of the Firm, is the past Secretary of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association (NYSTLA) and a chair of its Labor Law Committee. Mr.Perecman’s achievements have brought him recognition as an Honoree in the National Law Journal’s Hall of Fame, in New York Magazine’s “The Best Lawyers in America” and The New York Times Magazine “New York Super Lawyers, Metro Edition”.
The Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its clients. Among the more recent victories, Mr. Perecman won a $15 million verdict* for a construction accident, a $5.35 million dollar verdict** for an automobile accident, and a $40 million dollar structured settlement for medical malpractice.
*later settled while on appeal for $7.940 million
** later settled for $3.5 million
“Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”