Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting

By | September 19, 2008

Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting

A Metrolink commuter train carrying 222 people collided head-on with a freight train Friday afternoon, killing at least 17 people. The AP’s John Mone has this report from the scene. (Sept. 13)

Federal transportation authorities say the engineer of a Southern California commuter train who ran a red light and slammed into a freight train last Friday — killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 others — was text-messaging on his cell phone. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, who died in the crash, never hit his brakes. [Ed. note: Corrected from original post that identified Sanchez as the conductor.]

Officials say they are investigating a report from a TV station, CBS2, that two 14-year-old boys exchanged messages with the engineer moments before the accident.

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously passed an emergency order to ban the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices while operating a train.

The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington said today that “records … indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty.”

Federal investigators also are looking into whether Sanchez’s back-to-back, split-shift workdays on the Metrolink commuter system, which began before dawn and ended at 9 p.m., could have played a role in the crash. – washpost

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