The family of a man hit and killed by a MetroRail train last year in North Austin is suing Capital Metro, saying that the train should have stopped faster and the agency didn’t warn drivers that vehicles could get stuck on the crossing.
Jeremy Barta, 32, was killed and his two sons seriously injured on April 30, 2012, after a MetroRail train struck his sedan at a dirt and gravel drive just south of Scofield Ridge Parkway and MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1).
As of Wednesday afternoon, Capital Metro had not been served the civil suit and would not comment on it, said agency spokeswoman Erica Macioge. The suit was filed with the Travis County District Clerk’s office on Tuesday by the attorney representing Barta’s parents and ex-wife.
The family’s attorney was not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
The family is seeking more than $1 million for damages including mental anguish and compensation for funeral and medical expenses, according to the document.
The suit claims that the agency failed to:
- Maintain the train crossing properly
- Warn drivers that vehicles could get stuck on the crossing
- Have crossing arms or flashing lights installed at the crossing
- Sound warnings in a timely and sufficient manner to warn Barta
- Adequately train the engineer to identify and respond appropriately to hazards at crossings
- Keep a proper lookout
Barta’s family also accuses the agency of operating the train at an excessive speed.
According to the suit, Capital Metro is responsible for the actions of the the engineer Kazi Adnan Jahangir, 43, who worked for another company, Herzog Transit Services, Inc., at the time of the crash.
Jahangir did not immediately hit the brakes after spotting a stationary car on the tracks, according to police documents released to the American-Statesman last year. He applied the emergency brakes and sounded the horn and bells only after realizing that the white Ford Taurus might not move, the documents say.
Barta’s two children, Ethan, 8, and Corbin, 5, were in the back seat at the time of the crash and suffered severe facial injuries.
Scott Eason, Barta’s former roommate, said that the loose rock leading up a short, steep hill to the crossing made it difficult to make it over the tracks. Capital Metro has since replaced the gravel underpinning of the track at that crossing with a concrete base, Macioge said.
Additionally, the agency plans to install flashing lights at six private crossings — including the one where Barta was killed — over the next six years starting in October, Macioge said.
The lights will cost about $200,000 per crossing.