A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official has confirmed that the Metro-North train that derailed, killing four, was speeding at 82 mph while rounding a riverside curve in the Bronx.
Another 68 people were injured in the deadly derailment. The train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, was one of those hurt in the accident.
According to CBS:
Two event recorders from the train have been examined, and preliminary information indicates that the train went through the curve just ahead of the station at 82 mph, in a zone where the speed limit drops from 70 mph to 30 mph, according to NTSB board member Earl Weener.
The NTSB also found that about 5 seconds before the engine ground to a halt, brake pressure dropped from 120 psi to 0, Weener said. Investigators still must determine the functioning of the brakes and why the throttle went to 0, he said.
That information indicates that the train was going too fast, and the brakes were applied at the very last minute. An investigation continues, but authorities report that human error is the greatest focus of the investigation. Investigators say that Rockefeller dozed off at the controls before the train was hurtled from the tracks. According to DNA Info:
Veteran engineer William Rockefeller all but admitted he was falling asleep as the train came roaring to a curved section of track north of Spuyten Duyvil in statements made shortly after four people were killed and dozens were injured in the wreck, sources said.
He apparently woke up just as the train, traveling at 82 mph, was heading into a precarious curve that called for the train’s speed to be reduced to just 30 mph.
As the train entered the curve, sources said, Rockefeller was jolted from his sleep and hit the brake, but not in time.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Monday evening about the discovery of the high speed.
“NTSB’s finding that the train was traveling more than double the set speed limit makes clear that, as we suspected, extreme speed was a central cause of this crash. My administration will continue to work in close coordination with the NTSB in their ongoing investigation,” Cuomo said in the statement. “The lives that were lost yesterday are a stark reminder that protecting the safety of all New Yorkers must be our top priority. When the investigation concludes, we will make sure that any responsible parties are held accountable. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the victims of yesterday’s crash.”
We’ll keep you updated on the latest.