Lawyer Confirms Derailed Train Operator Was In A ‘Daze’

William Rockefeller said he wasn't sure how long he nodded off

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The operator of a New York train that derailed and killed four people said he had nodded off in a “daze” moments before the accident, his lawyer said Tuesday.

In an interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators, attorney Jeffrey Chartier said his client William Rockefeller described the “nod” as similar to road fatigue that often overcomes drivers, the Associated Press reports. Rockefeller was unsure how long it lasted, before the Metro-North train jumped the tracks after racing into a curve Sunday, going 82 miles per hour in an area where trains are restricted to 30 miles per hour. The accident left four dead and more than 60 injured.

Rockefeller told Chartier he recalled coming to an open section of the train when he suddenly felt something wrong.

“He felt something was not right, and he hit the brakes,” Chartier said. He said Rockefeller was “a guy with a stellar record who, I believe, did nothing wrong.”

(MORE: Engineer on Derailed Train ‘Consciously Asleep’: Is That Possible?)

Chartier also told investigators his client went to bed at 8:30 p.m. the night before his 3:30 a.m. shift and received a “proper amount of sleep.”

Federal investigators also said Tuesday that they’ve removed a rail employee union from the probe after a union leader spoke to reporters about Rockefeller’s “daze,” calling those public comments a breach of confidentiality.

[AP]

14 comments
valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IN CAPS ...FOR THE ELDERLY.......DEFEND THE WEAK.....KNIGHT TEMPLARS....


THE ENGINEER WAS IN A ,....."DAZE"......PRIOR TO THE ACCIDENT.......


OBVIOUSLY......


HE WAS THINKING AND DREAMING OF......OBAMA CARE !!!!!!


VALENTINE....COMEDIAN....LOL

Tiger-Pi
Tiger-Pi

The NY Metro derailment is a very sad mishap with  causalities especially fatalities that cannot be justified or swept under  the carpet with excuses of 'daze or lack of sleep' on the part of the engineer. This accident recalls the horrendous derailment in Spain, again blamed on the engineer  'making a mistake'. The Metro  system should  immediately install  automated safety systems all along its tracks, however much the cost and ensure it evolves a method to continually monitor a train engineer's performance through out the journey. 

rutnerh
rutnerh

Daze and lack of sleep are simply lame defense excuses since thousands of workers work similar rotating shift schedules without screwing up...and a cup of java is an easy fix. An overlooked fact mentioned in an earlier PR is that the engine was at the  rear, hence there was no direct line of sight of the curve. I certainly would not ride in the first car of any pushed train.  

Fitzwilliams
Fitzwilliams

I do feel like the engineer has a responsibility to protect the train, but if there was a derailment earlier, I suspect that the repair was not thorough and was not done correctly. People should look at all the facts when debating and not just taking one problem out of context. Look at the history of this length of track: it appears it is a defective fix.


Cap'nEddy
Cap'nEddy

It is curious to me that the NTSB is so quick to blame the engineer. I do not dispute the statements made BUT do recall there was a train derailment at that location in July. It was not a passenger train but nonetheless a train. Were the tracks properly relaid? Were there structural issues with the railbed? Was there junk on the tracks - note this is one of the filthiest areas on the MetroNorth Hudson line. NSTB should review the prior repair work and issues from the July derailment. Like the old saying:  Lightning doesn't usually strike twice in the same place. Hold off on putting all blame on the motorman. Cap'n Eddie

fitz
fitz

how much OTC sleep meds was he on? how 'bout ambien? that stuff will carry over to the next day..


good luck to all the passengers recovering, and peace be with the families of the lost.

zelskid1
zelskid1

CNN has thousands of comments

Piacevole
Piacevole

He went to bed at 8:30, probably had to get up at 2:30 AM, get dressed and drive to work.  Six hours is not "a proper amount of sleep," and one of the problems with a night shift is getting enough sleep to deal with it.  As we move more and more into ignoring circadian rhythms, this will get to be more and more of a problem.  Most humans are just not nocturnal.

Denesius
Denesius

@fitz Thank you for coming up with an idiotic assumption, before any of the facts are publicized. I've been there while driving long stretches of I-80 in Nebraska, without "OTC sleep meds" or "Ambien", and with proper amount of sleep. It's called boredom, monotony, or road hypnosis.

Denesius
Denesius

@Piacevole Good observation, but incorrect on one note: humans can be diurnal or nocturnal- it just has to be a consistent pattern. Worse thing you can do to a critical operator is have them work night shifts alternating with day shifts.

rohit57
rohit57

@Piacevole I hope you are not saying that HE is not responsible because Hey, no one can be wide awake on that little sleep and none of us were around to tell him to get more sleep.

It is HIS job to get enough sleep and if he cannot drive safely to call in sick.  It is not proper for us or his lawyer to offer excuses for conduct which terminated four lives and injured many others.

Maybe we need to dilute the presumption of innocence to something like, "If your conduct results in death or serious injury then the burden of proof is on you to show that you are blameless."  You COULD be blameless, e.g. in a case of legitimate self defense.  But it should not be the burden on the state to prove that you were at blame but the burden of proof on you to show that you were blameless.

fitz
fitz

@Denesius @fitz yeah, and i've been there driving long stretches of I-70 through kansas and never had that problem. if it's boredom or monotony, maybe you shouldn't be on the road either. 

Piacevole
Piacevole

@Denesius @Piacevole Tell me about it.  I worked "swing shift" - that is, changing shifts for 22 years.

 Still, it is not wrong to say that most humans are not nocturnal.  As a species, we evolved to be active during daylight and sleep at night.  We can sometimes adjust to a different arrangement, and some individuals are "night-owls," but as a species, we are diurnal.

Piacevole
Piacevole

@rohit57 @Piacevole I'm not saying that at all.  What I am saying is that whenever we mess with people's sleep patterns. things can go very wrong.  There are some people who seem to be somewhat nocturnal, and it would be better to have them working night shifts than have people who are not.

 We do these things, and we "get away with it," until we do not get away with it.  But messing with circadian rhythms is going to turn out to be a bad idea.






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