As more details emerge about Monday’s tragic Metro-North train derailment, investigators are being offered a better picture of exactly what went wrong to cause the fatal accident. William Rockereller Jr., the train’s engineer would probably be able to offer a lot of insight regarding the minutes or even moments leading up to the accident; however, it appears that he doesn’t know a thing because he somehow lost consciousness moments before the crash.
“I don’t know what I was thinking about and the next thing I know I was hitting the brakes,” Rockefeller told police officers, says the NY Daily News.
Investigators also say that the 46-year-old engineer, who was operating the train at 82 mph at the time of the accident, has no recollection of the events preceding the derailment.
“[He was] consciously asleep,” says one law enforcement officer.
“It seemed like he lost his concentration or focus,” another source added.
Authorities are still trying to determine whether the wreck was Rockefeller’s fault or some sort of mechanical malfunction. As for why Rockefeller blacked out just before the accident, one unnamed engineer says that the job is tiresome and getting adequate sleep is important.
“The job can be tiresome. You’ve got to get your sleep at night. You’ve got to get your sleep!” he said.
“People doze off in their cars all the time. It is what it is.”
He adds that work hours are strictly regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration.
“The limits are set by the Federal Railroad Administration — the federal government. Eleven hours and 59 minutes is the most you can work. Then you have to have a four hour break to sleep. But nobody works that many hours.”
Of course question of whether or not Rockefeller’s perceived negligence caused the accident is quite natural, but family friends believe it was a train malfunction and describe him as a responsible and “level-headed” guy.
“He might have a beer socially, but he is not one of those people who drinks excessively. I have never seen him tie one on,” said family friend Kerrie Abela
“I am guess something went wrong with the train,” she added.
The Bronx District Attorney has also launched an investigation to find out if there’s enough evidence to file criminal charges. Regardless of who is at fault for this tragic accident, it’s all pretty frightening.