Railroad Settles With Conductor's Family In Fatal 1993 Kelso Accident

KELSO - Burlington Northern has settled a claim from the family of a Union Pacific conductor, one of five crewmen killed in a 1993 train crash near this southwest Washington city.

The attorney for the family of Tom Klein said dangers that contributed to the crash have not been corrected. "The system that was responsible for these five deaths . . . is still unchanged," said attorney Fred Bremseth. "There are legitimate, continuing concerns about the safety of the system out there."

Terms of the settlement in the death of Klein, 50, of LaCenter, were withheld under a confidentiality agreement signed by Klein's sister, Roberta Lanz, who sued on behalf of her brother's children.

Lanz rejected a $300,000 settlement offer from the two railroads a month after the fiery November 1993 head-on crash of two freight trains.

Bremseth said the settlement reached this week "is substantially larger than that."

Burlington Northern had no comment, said spokesman Jim Samborin.

Klein's northbound Union Pacific train was about to switch tracks when a southbound Burlington Northern train, whose crew apparently had missed a crucial signal, slammed into it.

A year later, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed the crash to human error, but said it could have been prevented by a train-separation control system.