Twenty-two accidents, including 15 aviation accidents with 21 deaths, railroad accidents with two deaths, two highway accidents with seven deaths, and three marine accidents went uninvestigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) during the 35-day-long partial government shutdown, and there’s a chance not all will get their due diligence, according to the NTSB.
The NTSB is an independent U.S. government investigative agency that is charged with investigating aviation accidents and incidents, certain types of highway crashes, ship and marine accidents, pipeline incidents and railroad accidents to determine probable cause and issue safety recommendations as needed.
During the government shutdown, only 26 of the agency’s 397 employees were exempted from the furlough. Four investigators were recalled to work without pay on investigation of three international aviation accidents.
But now that the shutdown is over – at least for the next three weeks – those accidents need investigating. At least six others need more information gathering for the NTSB to determine whether an investigation is warranted, including three highway accidents with eight deaths and two pipeline accidents, the agency said. Plus, work must resume on 2,000 ongoing investigations were put on hold during the shutdown.
The NTSB told Law360 that investigators may still visit accident sites, but those visits will be made on a case-by-case basis.