Troubleshooter investigates emergency brakes on Louisville Zoo - News, Weather & Sports

Troubleshooter investigates emergency brakes on Louisville Zoo trains

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Put simply, the trains Louisville Metro Government sold don't have emergency brakes, something that if used properly, could prevent a derailment.

If a derailment occurred it could be similar to the one we saw 2 ½ years ago at the Louisville Zoo when a picture of childhood happiness turned into a scene of horror. On June 1, 2009 a train at the Louisville Zoo derailed sending 22 people to the hospital, some with serious injuries.

Attorney Chad Gardner, who represents a family injured in the 2009 accident, said the green train that derailed had an emergency brake known as an emergency coach brake valve. Garner claims that emergency brake could have prevented the accident had the conductor known how to use it.

Gardner said the conductor didn't know about the brake because of training on older models that lacked the emergency break feature. Those older trains are now back in use in other states after being sold by the Louisville Metro Government.

The WAVE 3 Troubleshooter Department uncovered purchase agreements pertaining to the Louisville Zoo's older model red and black trains. In August, the Louisville Zoo's older model black train sold for $73,000, plus tax, to the Gulf Breeze in Florida. The new owners of the train said the train is already back on the track.

The Louisville Zoo's red train sold for $62,000, plus tax, to LHAGS, which plans to use it to transport employees at its industrial park in Ohio.  

According to an attorney for the manufacturer, Chance Rides, that made the train that derailed at the Zoo, both trains lack an emergency coach brake valve.

Chance Rides attorney told WAVE 3 emergency coach valves weren't developed until the mid 1990's. Both the red and black trains were made in the mid 1980's.  

When WAVE 3 asked Chance's Director of Sales if emergency coach brake valves were vital to a train's safety he said, "Absolutely."

According to a bid specification, Louisville Metro Government is requiring emergency coach brake valves on the new trains it is buying for the Zoo.

WAVE 3 obtained the bid specification and found one of the companies that bid was Chance Rides.

A spokesperson for the Louisville Zoo sent an email to WAVE 3 that said, " The different businesses who purchased the trains had the opportunity to research and fully inspect them and ask and questions."

The owner of the Gulf Breeze Zoo, now using one of the Louisville Zoo's old trains, said he was fully aware of the history. But he said it is a newer model than the one they were using.

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