The panel’s independent review of the rail agency will be separate from that of the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the cause of the Sept. 12 Chatsworth crash, in which a Metrolink passenger train collided head-on with a southbound Union Pacific freighter after running a red light. The wreck resulted in 25 deaths and left 135 others injured.
Roosevelt Middle School counselor Ron Grace was among those killed in the crash, as was La Crescenta resident Robert Sanchez, the Metrolink train’s engineer.
Three workers in Burbank also died in the collision: 59-year-old Public Works mechanic Alan Buckley; Walter Fuller, 54, a traffic control manager at Bob Hope Airport; and Dean Brower, 51, an employee at the city’s water reclamation plant.
In response to questioning from Glendale City Councilman and fellow board member Ara Najarian, Millhouse assured the entire board that the panel would be independent and unconstrained in their recommendations, no matter the cost.
“It’s up to them, not to us,” said board member Ron Katz, who chose the panelists with Millhouse.
The Metrolink Commuter Rail Safety Peer Review Panel was given broad authority to review a range of issues — including hiring and training policies, employee mental evaluations, existing service provider contracts, safety protocols, equipment maintenance and communications — and do so under a tight schedule of reporting deadlines.
The first month will be spent collecting data, observing operations and conducting interviews, with the latter half of the time frame devoted to developing recommendations and drafting a report to the board of directors, according to the plan adopted Tuesday.