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.