Funeral Held for Insurance Agent, California Bans Train Operators from Texting

September 19, 2008

The first memorial service for a victim of the Sept. 12, 2008, Metrolink train collision was held in Simi Valley, Calif.

Howard Pompel, 69, an insurance agent and father of three from Moorpark, Calif., was among the 25 people killed on Sept. 12, 2008, when a Metrolink commuter train crashed into a freight train in suburban Chatsworth.

More than 100 friends, family members and colleagues gathered at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center to remember Pompel, who was involved in numerous community organizations and events.

His son, Cliff Pompel, said his father was a member of a dozen local groups and always giving of his time.

“Kiwanis, Rotarians, the Elks, the Moose lodge — you name it, he was part of it,” he said.

He also thanked the emergency crews that helped pull the crash victims from the wreckage.

Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission has prohibited the personal use of commercial mobile radio services and devices by on-duty railroad engineers, brakemen, conductors, or rail transit vehicle operators except for personal communications that take place when the train or transit vehicle is stopped and with the approval of the appropriate management personnel.

The CPUC determined that this action was needed due to a June 14, 2008, MUNI accident that may have resulted from the inappropriate personal use of a cell phone while operating the train, as well as the recent Metrolink accident in Chatsworth, which may have been at least partially caused by the inappropriate personal use of a cell phone by the train’s engineer.

“Because of the possible danger to passengers, the general public, and the railroad workers themselves, prohibiting the personal use of cellular devices is necessary and reasonable,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey, who noted that there are no existing federal or state laws, rules, or regulations prohibiting such inappropriate use of cellular devices.

The CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division will prepare a proceeding to determine whether this ban on cellular devices, or other measures, should be adopted on a permanent basis.

The Resolution approved can be viewed at: For more information, visit

Source: CPUC

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