Key in Lawsuit: When Amtrak Knew They Had Gunshot Victim on Train
The family of the man murdered on Amtrak's Missouri River Runner train is suing Amtrak and the shooter for negligence in the wrongful death of the passenger. This is according to an article on KSHB-TV's website.
Richie Terrell Aaron Jr. was shot and succumbed to his injuries aboard the Missouri River Runner on January 14, 2022, by Marquise Webb while the train was at the Lee's Summit station.
At issue is Amtrak's decision to depart Lee's Summit and have paramedics meet the train at the Independence train station, vs. remaining in Lee's Summit for paramedics. KSHB reports the lawsuit says the train departed for Independence, which is a minimum of 16 minutes from Lee's Summit despite the extent of Aaron's injuries and pleas from passengers to help the man there in Lee's Summit.
Additionally, KSHB says the lawsuit alleges Amtrak failed to provide sufficient emergency aid, adequately hire and or train employees on life-threatening emergencies, and implement reasonable security measures.
The television station reports court documents allege Webb had puffy, bloodshot eyes and appeared to be high when he boarded the train in Normal, Illinois. Additionally, those documents indicate he was involved with a carjacking before boarding the train and purchased two tickets for his trip, instead of just the one he needed.
The big question in my mind regarding this lawsuit is when Amtrak personnel aboard the Missouri River Runner discovered a man had been shot. Our original report on the shooting sourced from reports from the Lee's Summit Police Department and KMBC Television state the train had left Lee's Summit before train personnel realized someone had been shot. In that case, it's understandable Amtrak would have paramedics meet the train in Independence.
On the other hand, with Independence being 16 minutes from Lee's Summit, and a passenger suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. If Amtrak personnel knew there was a man on board with multiple gunshot wounds while sitting at the Lee's Summit train station. Well, logically, it seems paramedics would be able to get there much sooner than having paramedics meet the train in Independence.
The rest of the allegations about Amtrak not training personnel properly on dealing with life-threatening emergencies, or not having proper security screening or procedures can probably be argued both ways.
I suspect most life-threatening emergencies on trains deal more with passengers' suffering a medical emergency like a heart attack. Or a medication reaction. Or a fatal drug overdose versus a shooting or a physical trauma on board the train. I'm not sure the conductor and assistant conductor or service attendant being trained on rendering aid specifically in regards to a gunshot victim is where their emergency medical training should be.
And from a security standpoint, Amtrak's network is far and wide with many small stations like Lee's Summit, Warrensburg, Sedalia, and Independence on many routes. Implementing airline-style security along every route just isn't practical, nor affordable. Nor really a major problem on Amtrak's route network.
The crux of this case will be when Amtrak personnel knew Mr. Aaron had been shot multiple times on the train, and if the train had stayed in Lee's Summit if paramedics could have taken life-saving measures on Mr. Aaron.
If Amtrak personnel knew Mr. Aaron had been shot multiple times while sitting at the Lee's Summit station they, in my opinion, made a poor choice continuing on to Independence.
Aaron's family is suing Amtrak and Webb, the alleged shooter, in excess of $100 million dollars.