April 24, 2014
Driver in fatal New York train crash 'lost focus'
The driver of a New York commuter rail train that derailed on Sunday, killing four people, told investigators he "lost focus" shortly before the crash, according to a law enforcement source.
The seven-car Metro-North train was traveling at 82 miles per hour, nearly three times the 30-mph (48-kph) speed limit for the curved section of track where it crashed, investigators have said. The brakes were applied just seconds before it derailed.
The driver, William Rockefeller, 46, told investigators the train was operating normally when somehow he slipped into a daze, said the source, who has access to official reports on the investigation and requested anonymity.
Rockefeller told investigators he could not fully recall what happened but that at some point he suddenly came out of the temporary daze, realized the train was going too fast and into a dangerous curve, and applied the brakes. But it was too late to avoid the crash.
The train's throttle was reduced to idle six seconds before derailing and its brakes were activated five seconds before the accident, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told a news conference on Monday.
Sunday's crash, in which 11 people were also critically injured, has snarled travel for the roughly 26,000 people who normally ride Metro-North's Hudson line serving suburbs north of New York City.