August 16, 2011
In April 2011, Donald Karol joined the National Transportation Safety Board as the Director of the Office of Highway Safety. The California Highway Patrol veteran brings over 21 years of accident investigation experience and has participated in over 2,800 highway investigations. Karol was also an officer in the Unites States Coast Guard.
“As the Team Leader of the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) in Los Angeles, California, I was responsible for oversight of one of the best state run accident investigation and reconstruction programs in the nation,” Karol states. “A move to the NTSB is a “dream job” for any accident investigator. The NTSB is recognized worldwide as a leader in accident investigation and for me, joining NTSB’s staff provided me the ability to make more of an impact on highway safety at a national level.”
Shortly after arriving at the NTSB, Karol launched with the go-team to a motorcoach accident near Doswell, Virginia. A few weeks later, he accompanied Chairman Deborah Hersman to Detroit for a vehicle familiarization tour of the new safety technologies being developed by automobile companies and manufacturers, in an effort to save lives on the nation’s highways.
In the 1990s, Karol worked side-by-side with the NTSB on several investigations involving fatal accidents caused by airbag deployments. Also, while in the Coast Guard, in response to the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 accident off of Port Hueneme, California, he served as the initial incident commander, overseeing a search and rescue force of over 3,500 personnel, 36 ships and 15 aircraft – again participating in an NTSB investigation. For his work on the Alaska Airlines investigation, he was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal.
During Karol’s tenure with the California Highway Patrol, he was responsible for several of the largest and most complex accident investigations in California history. These included: the multiple fatality Interstate 5 Newhall Pass Truck Tunnel collisions and fire that consumed over 30 tractor-trailers, the Interstate 710 fog-related collision involving 176 vehicles and the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market tragedy that resulted in 10 fatalities and 65 injuries. He has also participated in numerous high profile murder investigations in support of Los Angeles Police Department including the “Black Widows” murder investigation and the murder of actor Bill Cosby’s son.
Karol is an alumnus of the United States Coast Guard Academy where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. During his 22-year Coast Guard career, which included active and reserve duty, he rose to the rank of Captain and served in numerous command assignments including patrol vessels and port security units. Immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks, he deployed twice to the Middle East and Iraq as Commanding Officer of an expeditionary warfare unit.
Karol is the recipient of numerous commendations including California Highway Patrol Officer of the Year awards, the Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation