Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Mila Jasey to require New Jersey Transit to put in place policies in case a person is injured or killed in an accident involving motor buses and rail or light rail vehicles was released by the full Assembly with a vote of 76-0 on Thursday.
The bill (A-3904) is known as “Tommy’s law “in memory of Thomas Ryan, age 27, who tragically died when he was struck by a train traveling approximately 70 mph at the main street station in Ramsey located in Bergen County.
Under the bill, New Jersey Transit (NJT) would be required to designate an employee within the NJT police department to serve as a liaison between New Jersey Transit and the NJT Police Department and a person injured or a member of a person’s immediate family if the person was killed as a result of an incident.
“It’s shocking that such policies were not in place at the time of this tragic incident,” said McKeon (D-Essex). “Accidents that result in injury involving mass transit vehicles are unexpected and even more so, heartbreaking if a family suffers a loss. These are delicate situations that require preparedness and compassion from employees designated to work with the person or the family.”
“These incidents may not happen often but when they do occur New Jersey Transit must have protocols in place to ensure injured parties and families are well taken care of during their time of need,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “The treatment the Ryan family had to endure after the loss of Thomas should never happen to anyone or happen again.”
The designated employee is to: 1). Provide an appropriate and sensitive manner any information, permitted under the law, to the person injured or immediate family member of a person killed and probably respond to any reasonable in query; 1. Upon the conclusion of an investigation related to a person injured or killed, return in an appropriate and sensitive manner all personal belongings in New Jersey Transit’s possession to the person or immediate family member; 2). The bill also requires New Jersey Transit to, within 12 months of the bills effective date, study methods and adopt policies to improve New Jersey Transit interactions with, and the return of personal belongings to, a person injured or a member of the person’s immediate family if the person was killed.
The study is to include an analysis of the methods to expedite the process and ease the burden of any person seeking the return of any personal belongings of the person injured or deceased.