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Streetcar driver in July wreck completed training, records show

Workers examine and cleanup the front end of a streetcar on Saturday, July 18, 2015 after it was involved in an accident with a SUV. The incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. when the streetcar rear-ended a sport utility vehicle. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
Workers examine and cleanup the front end of a streetcar on Saturday, July 18, 2015 after it was involved in an accident with a SUV. The incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. when the streetcar rear-ended a sport utility vehicle. The cause of the accident remains under investigation. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The transit driver involved in July’s streetcar crash had completed his 32 hours of in-vehicle training, according to records released Wednesday.

Driver Metro Coston did his training in four 8-hour shifts, according to the records. He drove on June 2, 3 and 4 and again July 11.

The streetcar opened July 14.

On July 18, Coston was driving Streetcar 91. When he reached the last station on the line on Hawthorne Lane, he walked to the back of the streetcar to assume the controls at the other end of the car.

But the Charlotte Area Transit System believes he didn’t flip a switch to activate the controls at the back of the trolley. CATS also believes he accidentally released the brake.

At that point, the streetcar began rolling down the hill. The driver tried two different brakes, but since the controls hadn’t been activated, they didn’t work.

CATS said the driver used his radio to call into an operating center, which told him to use a mechanical hand-cranked brake. But the driver didn’t do that, and the streetcar crashed into an SUV that was waiting at a red light. The wreck took place at Kings Drive and Elizabeth Lane.

No passengers were hurt. The driver of the SUV was released from the hospital that day.

In addition to his 32 hours of “sticktime” training, Coston also completed an eight-hour class on April 22.

CATS said Wednesday that it’s still investigating the accident, and a final report could come later this month.

Steve Harrison: 704-358-5160, @Sharrison_Obs

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