Engineer is Focus of Metro-North Derailment Investigation

With the train's black box showing that the speeding commuter train entered a 30 M.P.H curve at 82 M.P.H, causing the derailment, attention has turned toward the engineer. CNN reports that the engineer admits to "nodding off" before the crash.
December 4, 2013, 5am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"A law enforcement official briefed on an account provided by the engineer, William Rockefeller, said that Mr. Rockefeller did not appear to have been fully focused shortly before his train barreled into a sharp curve at 82 miles per hour," writes Matt Flegenheimer on the investigation into the cause of Sunday's deadly derailment.

DNAinfo attributes the cause of the derailment to the engineer having fallen asleep.

Veteran engineer William Rockefeller all but admitted he was falling asleep as the train came roaring to a curved section of track north of Spuyten Duyvil in statements made shortly after four people were killed and dozens were injured in the wreck, sources said.

CNN has confirmed that account in this late-breaking news story. A union representative "told CNN Tuesday the engineer apparently 'was nodding off and caught himself too late' before the accident". 

On Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), had all but ruled out faulty brakes and "Senator Charles E. Schumer added that he had been told that the tracks were in proper condition before the derailment."

Upon "examination of two black-box recorders recovered from the train", the NTSB had determined on Monday that the train "was traveling at a 'harrowing' 82 mph as it hit a curve where the limit was 30 mph," reported NBC.

Texting does not appear to be an issue, according to an initial evaluation of phone records. A Metrolink engineer who was texting was determined by the NTSB to the cause of a horrific crash of a Metrolink commuter train with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif, killing 25 people on Sept. 12, 2008.

However, it must be noted that NTSB, "which is leading the investigation, has cautioned that it remains unclear if human error or faulty equipment was responsible," writes Flegenheimer.

Last July In Galicia, Spain, 79 people died when a high speed Alvia train was "traveling at 190km/h on the stretch of track, which has a limit of 80km/h", derailed. The conductor of the train was named as a defendant in the investigation by a judge looking into the cause.

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Published on Monday, December 2, 2013 in The New York Times - N.Y. / Region
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