World

Dispatcher Played Games On His Phone Before Fatal Crash

| by Reve Fisher
German Train Collision German Train Collision

A German dispatcher was reportedly playing games on his phone right before the horrific train crash that killed 11 people and injured 85 others.

In February, two commuter trains suffered a head-on collision in southern Germany, one of the worst train accidents in the history of the country, according to DPA International.

Joachim Herrmann, interior minister of Bavaria, told Bild magazine that a "particularly tragic chain of two mistakes" caused the deadly crash. First, the 39-year-old dispatcher accidentally gave both of the two trains, which were traveling in opposite directions on the same track, the go-ahead signal to travel. Once he realized the error, he tried to warn the trains but pushed the wrong button in the process.

Both trains were in proper condition the day of the crash, and their brake systems were fully functioning. They were traveling at speeds over 60 mph at the time of the collision, according to NPR.

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"The head-on crash occurred during the morning rush hour on a remote stretch of track in Bavaria," Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson of NPR reported soon after the February accident. "Rescue workers struggled to get to trapped passengers in the gnarled wreckage on the mountainside.

"Investigators are unclear how the crash could have happened given safety measures that are supposed to prevent trains moving in opposite directions from traveling on the same track."

After the fatal incident, German prosecutors launched an investigation against the train dispatcher, who has been identified only as Michael P. under privacy laws set by the country.

The dispatcher had his cell phone on while working, which is a violation of the protocol for rail dispatchers, according to a recent article from NPR. According to the prosecutors, he had been playing a game on his phone "for an extended period of time" prior to the crash.

"Due to the close timing it must be assumed that the accused was distracted from controlling the cross-traffic of the trains," prosecutors said in a statement, NPR reports.

Although the dispatcher admitted to playing the cell phone game, he reportedly said he was not distracted by the activity.

The operator may face charges of negligent homicide for his role in the deadly accident.

Sources: NPR (2), DPA International / Photo Credit: CNN

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