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Metrolink engineer sent texts on day of crash

Federal investigators said today that records from Metrolink engineer Robert M. Sanchez’s cellphone show he sent and received text messages while on duty Friday, the day he was involved in a catastrophic collision in Chatsworth.

However, investigators have not yet analyzed the records to determine whether Sanchez was using his phone at the time he slammed into an oncoming Union Pacific freight train, causing an accident that left 25 people dead and 135 others injured.

“The safety board will correlate those records with other investigative information to determine as precisely as possible the exact times of those messages in relation to the engineer’s operation of his train,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement.

The agency had subpoenaed the phone records after hearing news reports that several youths said they exchanged text messages with Sanchez shortly before the head-on crash.

--Robert J. Lopez

Comments () | Archives (3)

What a tragedy! My prayers go out to the victims involved. Now I'm more paranoid than ever about taking the metrolink train!

The Feds at Dept of Transportation LOVE cellphones and will do nothing to get the cell drunks off the highways or rails. Safety simply is not important when it comes to the fun you can have watching movies, porn, texting, checking game scores and babbling. The Federal Railroad Safety Advisory Committee has been sitting on a recommendation from NTSB since 2003 which called to ban cell phones in train cabs. Car death toll from cell phones is 100 times the Metrolink crash, injuries run into the hundreds of thousands but the FEDS will not under any circumstance do anything about cell phones and transportation.

Being Cell imparied and hurting or killing others is, apparently, your god-given American rigtht. The fools at the NHTSB and other "safety" organizations ought to be ashamed and resign their positions for being useless stoogies of the cell phone industry.

What's wrong with this picture? Blow thru two red lights, blast thru rail/track switch, never apply brakes, don't jump from cab, texting while operating, etc. Still, it doesn't add up...assuming blast thru rail/track switch doesn't at least get an experienced engineer's attention (it's not like running over a pizza box), then, continuing to cell text, never applying the brakes, etc.? I'm going to wait for more timeline info, forensics and NTSB work. The pieces of this puzzle are more than meet the eye. Horrific occurrence. (I'd call it an accident but with ATP (Automatic Train Protection) being successfully implemented in EU it's more a(nother) stateside event waiting to happen. (What if it would have happened in that TUNNEL!?) Why not have fed/stategov and rail companies share the cost of a common interoperable system such as Seimens Eurobalise? These systems are proven and work! $2 billion is shared bucket of peanuts. Add up litigation/settlements, equipment cost, lives lost/changed forever, rationalized (non)safety record, etc. I can't imagine at least having minimal rail/track switch backup in the cab--big red flashing neon light or auto-brake, whatever.)


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