Amtrak sued over Vt. teen’s death
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | July 14,2013
The father of a Vernon teenager killed by a train is suing Amtrak.
Michael Pratt filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the passenger rail service as well as New England Central Railroad and the conductor and engineer on duty at the time of the accident.
Pratt’s son, 15-year-old Eric Pratt, was hit by a train in January at a crossing at the intersection of Route 142 and Bemis Road in Vernon.
According to the lawsuit, Eric Pratt was walking north on the side of Route 142 when he turned onto Bemis road, entered the rail crossing and was struck “without warning.”
The crossing lacked gates or flashing lights to warn of an approaching train, according to the lawsuit. The complaint also charges that the train crew did not “sound a proper horn warning,” keep a careful lookout, or slow the train down to avoid hitting Pratt.
The filing also claims the railroad failed to clear vegetation from around the crossing, to provide adequate sightlines around it, and to properly mark the crossing. It also argues that dangers at the crossing were not properly evaluated, leading to a design that was not “safe and reasonable.”
The lawsuit seeks medical and funeral expenses along with damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and any other remedies the court might find “just, equitable and proper.” No specific dollar amount is listed.
Pratt’s lawyer, Burlington attorney Robert Behrens, and representatives of Amtrak could not be reached for comment Friday.
The Vermonter train from Washington, D.C., to St. Albans was carrying 141 passengers at the time of the fatal event.
Nobody on the train was hurt.