Nic Westlake

The Twin Cities have lost a generous volunteer, a beautiful dancer, and a brilliant programmer. It is a terrifying thought that another shining light in our community could be extinguished at any moment by an operator mistake. We deeply hope our loss can spur the action necessary to prevent this from ever happening again.

A Deadly Mistake

On July 15, 2017, a Metropolitan Council/Metro Transit driver negligently drove through a stop signal killing Nic and severely injuring his companion, Neli Petkova. We desperately miss Nic and his comfort and support for our Family and our friends and neighbors in the community.

A Real Problem

When Nic was killed, Minnesota Law stated that the Light Rail were excluded from the traffic code, allowing Light Rail Operators to make deadly mistakes without punishment or consequences. Because of this loophole, the driver of the train that killed Nic faced no criminal penalties and continued to work for Metro Transit for several years. Drivers responsible for 300,000 lb vehicles on the streets that you drove this afternoon must respect the traffic laws, and must face consequences when they do not.

A Straightforward Solution

We are working with the Minnesota House  and Senate to pass a modest bill that will ensure Light Rail Vehicles are included in the Careless and Reckless driving statues. These responsibilities already apply to cars, trucks, and city buses and it’s time to include the Light Rail too. We have worked to introduce the bills HF1568 in the House and SF1339 in the Senate.

 

A Safer Minnesota

We did it!

Governor Walz signed SF1339/HF1568 into law on April 4, 2019. Minnesota and the Light Rail will be safer because of Nic.

Thank you so much to the courageous authors of our bill Senator Carla Nelson and Representative Cheryl Youakim. We deeply appreciate your wise and persistent efforts to fix this hole in our laws. It means so much to our family to know that we can help prevent this from ever happening again.

Nic loved Minnesota and he loved the Light Rail. He would be so proud to be a part of making both safer.