The engineer of the Metro-North train that derailed Sunday morning told investigators he zoned out as the 82-mph train hit a 30-mph curve in the Bronx. Investigators are looking into whether he might have actually fallen asleep.
William Rockefeller, 46, was brought back to reality when a loud whistle went off warning him the train was going too fast, sources told the New York Post.
“He was just somehow inattentive,” a source said.
When he finally hit the breaks, it was too late. Four people died in the crash and 63 people were injured, some critically.
Two black boxes were found in the wreckage. They show that Rockefeller didn’t apply the brakes until five seconds before the derailment.
It appears that Rockefeller put the train’s throttle into “idle,” or neutral, and in the next second engaged the brakes. He initially suggested to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the breaks had “failed to engage.”
“If the engineer fails to slow down, it will provide an alarm and if he fails to brake, it will apply the emergency brakes,” a transit source told The Post.
The NTSB found that the train was travelling 12 mph over the maximum limit of 70 mph along the Hudson.
“At this point, we are not aware of any problems or anomalies with the brakes,’’ said NTSB spokesman Earl Weener.
The derailed train flew so far from the track on car almost ended up in the Harlem River.
A source said that the engineer was more talkative Sunday. On Monday, investigators “found him elusive and traumatized.”
Rockefeller, who denied drinking the morning of the crash, underwent a toxicology exam. The NTSB is still waiting for the results.
In addition to the NTSB investigation, the NYPD and the Bronx District Attorney Office have launched a joint criminal probe into the incident.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority released the following video of their recovery operations on Monday: