Disney Castmember - Austin WuennenbergSad news to report from Walt Disney Word: 21 year old cast member, Austin Wuennenberg, died today from an early morning collision between Monorail Pink and Monorail Purple.

The two trains collided at around 2 a.m. at the Transportation and Ticket Center, which is the hub for Walt Disney World’s transportation system. The pilot of the second monorail was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. No guest injuries are reported.

Vice President of public affairs at Walt Disney World Mike Griffin has released this company statement:

“Today, we mourn the loss of our fellow cast member. Our hearts go out to his family and those who have lost a friend and coworker. The safety of our guests and cast members is always our top priority. The monorail is out of service and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement to determine what happened and the appropriate next steps.”

The specifics of how the crash occurred are still unknown. It appears that Monorail Purple was stationary when Monorail Pink backed into it.

Monorail Accident at Walt Disney World

Orlando Attractions Magazine provides the following speculation of how the accident may have occurred.

Every night, the monorails are brought into the shop behind the Magic Kingdom for maintenance. The pilot we spoke with explained that in order to move from the main monorail lines onto the beams that lead into the shop (a “spur line”), the monorails must travel to a switch in the track. The Walt Disney World monorail system does have an anti-collision system built in. However, in order to perform the switch, the anti-collision system must be disabled first.

It appears that in the case of this accident, Monorail Pink should have been on its way back to the maintenance shop and likely had its anti-collision system disabled in order to make the track switch. What is unknown is why the monorail did not follow the spur line toward the maintenance shop and instead headed to the Transportation and Ticket Center, which is located on the opposite side of the track loop from the shop.

The former monorail pilot we spoke to told us that during the anti-collision override stage, the monorails can travel a maximum of 15mph. If Monorail Purple was stationary at the time of the collision, then the two could not have collided at a speed greater than 15mph. If Monorail Purple was moving, the combined speed of both monorails could not have exceeded 30mph.

On his Facebook page, the unfortunate pilot of Monorail Purple, posted a status update on June 9, “has a 14 hr shift today.” On May 30, he similarly posted, “is working Monorails 1:00 to 1:00.” It’s clear that monorail pilots regularly have long work days so fatigue on the part of the pilot of Monorail Pink certainly cannot be ruled out as a possible contributing factor to the crash.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the cast member involved in this terrible accident.

Investigation into this tragic accident is ongoing.


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