NEW YORK, NY – Days after New York’s Metro-North Hudson train crashed, killing four people and injuring 67, a search for exactly what went wrong immediately went underway.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Monday that speed was a factor, saying the train was going 82 mph into a curve, nearly three times the 30 mph limit for the curve. But now investigators are taking a closer look at the train’s engineer. Could fatigue have been a factor? He reportedly told investigators that he was “Going along and I’m in a daze. I don’t know what happened.”
Whether mechanical or human error or both, hopefully we never have to see a scene like this again.
The NTSB has also been interviewing the crew members and reviewing Rockefeller’s cell phone, which it said was part of the forensic process. No information from the cell phone review was available Tuesday, Weener said.
The Bronx district attorney is also involved in the investigation, a spokesman said.
In case of an engineer becoming incapacitated, the train’s front car was equipped with a “dead man’s pedal” that must be depressed or else the train will automatically slow down, officials said. The NTSB said the train cars were still being examined and it wasn’t known if the pedal was functioning.
Bottalico said Rockefeller was “traumatized” by the derailment and “distraught over the loss of life.”
An attorney for Rockefeller didn’t immediately return calls Tuesday.
“Once the NTSB is done with their investigation and Billy is finished with his interview, it will be quite evident that there was no criminal intent with the operation of his train,” Bottalico said.
Rockefeller, 46 and married with no children, has worked for the railroad for about 20 years and has been an engineer for 11, Bottalico said. Rockefeller lives in a well-kept house on a modest rural road in Germantown, N.Y.
He started as a custodian at Grand Central Terminal, then monitored the building’s fire alarms and other systems, and ultimately became an engineer.
“He was a stellar employee. Unbelievable,” said his former supervisor, Michael McLendon, who retired from the railroad about a year ago.
McLendon said he was stunned when he heard about the crash, shortly after opening his mail to find a Christmas card from Rockefeller and his wife.
“I said, ‘Well, I can’t imagine Billy making a mistake,'” McLendon said. “Not intentionally, by any stretch of the imagination.”
The federal Department of Transportation, citing “significant concerns about the current situation at Metro-North,” has ordered the MTA to immediately implement a confidential close call reporting system, which allows railroad employees to anonymously report close calls.