DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It was a deadly collision between a car and a Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) train that had as many as 20 mounted cameras. But DART says the only one pointed toward the crash wasn’t working.
This is raising concerns about the reliability of a $12 million surveillance system. CBS 11 News has exclusive video regarding a story surrounding those concerns.
The few passengers onboard the DART train had no idea what they were about to experience. It was near midnight on Feb. 21 when multiple security cameras recorded a crashing sound, a fountain of sparks outside the windows and a sudden stop that jolted passengers from their seats on a train heading north on Meadow Road.
That train had collided with a car driven by Eduardo Ramirez, who authorities believe was killed instantly.
“He was like a brother to me even though he was a little bit younger than me,” the victim’s cousin, Itzel Gonzalez, said.
Ramirez’s family created a shrine in his memory at the crash scene.
In the weeks since, they’ve desperately wanted confirmation of the train conductor’s account that the guard bars were operating and that Ramirez drove around them.
“It’s really hard because we want to know what happened,” Gonzalez said.
DART provided nine videos to the family that captured views from inside the trains at the time of the crash. But the one mounted to the front of the train that would have captured the crash wasn’t working.
“Unfortunately, in this case we didn’t know the camera was out of order,” DART spokesperson Gordon Shattles said. “… Of the thousands of cameras across our DART network, on occasion we do have one go out.”
In 2019, a passenger was seriously injured after being pushed onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. DART security cameras mounted around the Oak Cliff station that could have identified a suspect were not working.
The DART spokesperson says the incidents should not cause concern.
“For the most part, we’ve always had very reliable camera service,” Shattles said.
According to DART, security cameras at stations and on trains are inspected daily and that the cameras maintain a 98% to 99% up-time rating.
Video was eventually found from a camera at a nearby apartment building that finally gave Gonzalez confirmation that the guard bars were working and that her cousin drove around them. Only that video allowed her family to grieve without lingering questions.
DART says it immediately repairs cameras found to be faulty, including the one on the train that collided with Ramirez’s car. The agency has around 7,550 cameras within its network.