Attorney: NY engineer experienced 'a daze' at controls before deadly train wreck at curve

  • Article by: JENNIFER PELTZ , Associated Press
  • Updated: December 3, 2013 - 11:30 PM

YONKERS, N.Y. — An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnosis-like "daze" and nodded at the controls just before the wreck, and by the time he caught himself it was too late, people representing him said Tuesday.

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Jim1960Dec. 3, 13 2:15 AM

The US is quite willing to spend money on failed projects like the F-35 fighter project (estimated cost of $1,000,000,000,000 ($1 Trillion Dollars) but not to spend money protecting the citizens of our country. Our train system is primitive compared to the European and Asian systems, but out Regressive TEAPublican party wants to fund dirt roads for Ox carts. Until the political will of the United States enters the 21st Century, these kinds of accidents will continue to occur. Our infrastructure is a joke...China is having our lunch. Bullet trains... 80 new airports, etc.

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texas_technomanDec. 3, 13 7:02 AM

The freight railroads have spent billions over the past few years installing these safeguards for freight trains, why wouldn't this also be required for passenger rail...Amtrak, when running over the freight rail tracks will also be required to have this technology. And oh, by the way, the freight railroads paid for this out of their pocket...not out of the taxpayer's pocket...unlike all other forms of commercial transporation which rely on the taxpayers for their infrastructure (air, barge, truck)....

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a6699fDec. 3, 13 6:40 PM

I can understand (but not excuse) nodding off. I can't think of a more boring job.

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FrankieDec. 3, 13 7:16 PM

Typical Union Official response. Nodding off, what a lie. He needs to be charged with manslaughter.

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summerguy3Dec. 3, 13 7:17 PM

So, this story went from "likely the brakes didn't work after Billy applied them" to "only six seconds of brakes" to "Billy nodded off." I'm sorry for Billy, but if you have ever driven a two-lane highway at night (and who hasn't) you realize that there is a special standard of care that one applies so you don't kill someone else (and your car's contents). And since Billy is supposed to be a professional, this standard of care is multiplied. Unless Billy is shown to have a medical condition that would debilitate his capability to drive the train, I would conclude that he must have made some choices that led to "nodding off," in which case about 10-20 years of time to contemplate the price of his choices seems a proper action.

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dave9398Dec. 3, 13 7:47 PM

Jim1960 --- "Our train system is primitive compared to the European and Asian systems, but out Regressive TEAPublican party wants to fund dirt roads for Ox carts" --- Please read the story this is a union employee who fell asleep in the job.

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MellersDec. 3, 13 8:46 PM

dave9398: An employee, a human, an engineer made a mistake. Non-union employees make mistakes all the time without them being called out as a non-union employee. This person is an individual, not a label. Second, there ARE requirements by 2015 (I think) to have auto-brakes installed but train companies are trying to postpone them. So that if a human, union or non-union, make a mistake, the TRAIN SYSTEM automatically stops. While I haven't researched whether or not Euro/Asian systems have them, their system are still likely far more superior to ours, as they invest in ours system-wide.

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georgina17Dec. 3, 13 9:39 PM

Mellers: Yes, that safety equipment requirement that Jim Oberstar introduced was passed into law in 2007, to be effective years ago. Unfortunately the railroad industry claims it is too expensive and so instead has been paying their lobbyist to keep postponing the due date. I heard an industry representative mention today that in fact very few people are killed by speeding trains each year, which is why they don't believe the equipment is necessary.

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benedict636Dec. 4, 13 8:10 AM

From the driver's picture, he looks like the poster boy for obstructive sleep apnea. He has just the right facial features to predict this as the cause, with a high degree of accuracy. I bet when he gets his sleep study, which he will, the cause of this accident will become clear. The guy does not need jail, but a CPAP machine at night. The other issue is that it highlights the fact that the human brain is a lousy computer for controlling vital equipment, and we are all lousy drivers of anything. Driving a train is child's play for modern computer's and the trains would be safer now without drivers and cars soon will be. At the least, there have been computerized fail safe systems around, that would have had 100% chance of preventing this accident. The real blame lies with the individuals who failed to invest in standard life saving technology. The individuals that failed to plan and install these systems are the ones who need to be accountable. Sending the driver to jail will not prevent the next accident from human error.

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mnfishDec. 4, 13 8:14 AM

So basically he was tired and instead of manning up and admitting he was 100% at fault for the mistake.....he chooses the cowards way out and tries to blame it to some "hypnotic" state of mind??

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