Share this story...
train derailment, amtrak train
Latest News

Dori: Why did Sound Transit not fire safety officer for derailment deaths?

An Amtrak train derailed in December 2017, killing three and injuring dozens. (AP Photo)

It was almost exactly two years ago when that Amtrak train went flying off the tracks at Dupont, killing three people and injuring others. Now Sound Transit has released the results of its independent review of the derailment.

Besides the loss of life in the train derailment, there was the financial cost to the taxpayers — $20 million and counting in payouts. It was a very expensive mistake.

So, let’s talk about Sound Transit. As I’ve told you countless times, it is a criminal enterprise. Their projects are as many as 13 years behind schedule and billions over budget, which they won’t acknowledge. Now, of course, they are part of the cabal suing the taxpayers for wanting $30 tabs. Why do they need so much of our money? They say that it’s so they can finish projects, but I’m sure it’s also to cover up the graft and corruption that reigns supreme within Sound Transit.

You know the story of the December 2017 train derailment, I’m sure. The Amtrak Cascades train (for which Sound Transit was one of the overseeing agencies) traveling from Seattle to Portland was on its inaugural run on the Point Defiance Bypass. The train hit a 30 mph curve at an estimated 79 mph. The train flew off the track and crashed onto I-5 below. Three people lost their lives. Many others sustained life-altering injuries.

Sen. O’Ban: Sound Transit employees should lose jobs for train derailment

Sound Transit had a guy named Salah Al-Tamimi, whose job title was chief executive safety and quality officer. You would think someone with that title would help protect us. I don’t know how he got his job; I’m still researching his credentials.

Here are some areas in which Sound Transit fell short, according to their independent review.

1) They did not create a Safety and Security Management Plan for the new bypass.

2) They did not do adequate briefing on “proposed hazard mitigations.”

3) “The responsibilities of Sound Transit as the host railroad were not understood.” As an example of this, Sound Transit thought that the Washington State Department of Transportation was supposed to train the Amtrak conductor. Sound Transit was supposed to do it.

If your job is to be safety and quality officer, and human beings die and become maimed when your train goes flying off a track, and — though this is far less important than the loss of life — your mistake costs the taxpayers $20 million in payouts, what happens to you? What happens to the government employee responsible for an error so big, it kills three human beings and costs his taxpayer-funded company 10s of millions of dollars? I guarantee you if I cost my company $1 million because of my inability to do my job, I would be fired. I’m guessing you would be as well. But that is not how government works.

The early reports that came out Wednesday evening were that this guy had been fired. Then they sent out an important correction to the media stressing that while Al-Tamimi was fired from his safety officer job, he was being offered another position at Sound Transit that is lower down on the ladder.

My jaw literally dropped.

This guy was hired to be a chief safety officer — to protect people — and he absolutely failed. The worst scenario imaginable happened — a train derailment. Human beings died. Families were permanently devastated. People have lifelong disabilities from their injuries; in fact, my daughter knows one of those people.

If you work for Sound Transit, what does it take to get fired? The safety guy kills people with his inability to do his job, and he is offered a demotion. And is he really better than any other candidate for this new position he’s being demoted to?

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better example of what a corrupt, soulless, and broken agency this is. What do you think the reaction of the family members of the three dead victims was when they heard that the person who should have foreseen the dangers to their loved ones is being offered a new job?

Sound Transit is a criminal enterprise, and more than anything it’s a jobs program. They are the medium by which $100 billion is being transferred from taxpayers to create all of these jobs. CEO Peter Rogoff makes $360,000, and then we have to pay more to send him to anger management training because of how he mistreats his employees.

Above all else, Sound Transit takes care of its own. It’s just too bad that the taxpayers and the families of the victims were not counted among their own.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Most Popular