Federal investigators of the New York train crash said Tuesday that they did not find mechanical errors in the commuter cars that crashed on Sunday. Attention is focusing on the driver.
As the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the Sunday derailing of a Metro-North train continues, the possibility of mechanical error as a cause is slowly being ruled out.
The NTSB’s preliminary investigations revealed there were no anomalies in the train’s brake performance, and there was no indication that the brake systems were not functioning properly, said NTSB member Earl Weener during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The train’s driver, William Rockefeller, who was injured in the crash, told investigators that he “lost focus” and went into a daze shortly before the crash, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday. A second source also said Mr. Rockefeller went into a “highway hypnosis” before the crash took place.
The Metro-North train went hurling off its tracks at 82 m.p.h. in an area where the speed limit is 30 m.p.h.
Whatever the findings on the cause of the crash, the engineer could be faulted for the train's speed alone, said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
"Certainly, we want to make sure that that operator is disciplined in an appropriate way. There's such a gross deviation from the norm," Governor Cuomo said on Tuesday, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Crew members, including Rockefeller, are being interviewed on Tuesday, and initial breathalyzer tests came back negative for all crew members, according to federal investigators. The results of drug tests are still pending.
Rockefeller worked for Metro-North for 15 years and has been an engineer for 10 of those years. Rockefeller had worked on his route – running from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to Grand Central Terminal in New York City – full-time since November, according to Mr. Weener.
When Rockefeller clocked in on Sunday morning at 5:04 a.m., it was the second day of his five-day workweek. The engineer was scheduled to make two round trips each day and typically worked nine-hour days, Weener said.