Sunday mornings are meant to be a day of relaxation. Many may spend time with their families or make plans to travel places for specific occasions. On Sunday December 1st, no one aboard the Metro North heading southbound into New York City expected to be a part of a horrific accident that would then be a huge center of controversy for days to come.
The Metro North train was heading southbound from Poughkeepsie into New York City. The derailment occurred about 100 feet north of the Spuyten Duyvil station, close by to the Harlem River. Reports have shown that the train was travelling at an alarming speed of 82 miles per hour in an area of the track that requires operators to drop their speed to 30 miles per hour due to the curve in the railroad. The train was travelling at 60 miles per hour minutes prior to the crash and surprisingly sped up to 82 miles per hour as it approached the curve. The brakes were applied only 5 second before the train stopped moving at approximately 7: 20 am where passengers were then ejected from the train. Sadly four people perished in this accident and 63 people were left injured.
Earl Weener, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation to find some sort of resolution to what went wrong on that Sunday morning. He quoted that using the brakes was “very late in the game” to try to slow down for the curve. Additionally, he questions why the train had exceeded its 70-mile per hour speed limit, which justifies any suspicion for extreme speed being the cause of this devastating derailment.
A federal investigation has been opened for the operator, William Rockefeller, of this train to look deeply into his cell phone record, blood samples, drug and alcohol test results as well as other evidence that may apply. Rockefeller reported to investigators that the brakes failed to work, hence why the train derailed. He then claimed he attempted to “dump” the breaks, which works similar to that of the emergency brake on a car. Reports have shown that the changes in the brake air pressure have proven that the operator of the train applied the emergency brakes, but at that point it was too late to prevent the derailment from occurring. Although Weener was unable to comment on whether or not it was human error or mechanical failure that caused the accident, the train had made nine stops prior to the crash, thus showing evidence that the brakes were working perfectly fine at some point during its journey into Manhattan.
It may take up to a year for a conclusion to this investigation to arrive. As time progresses new information will surface. Most recently it was revealed that Rockefeller might have suffered from sleep apnea, a medical condition that may have strongly contributed to this fatal accident. Any accident is tragic, but one involving the loss of lives has an impact that affects innocent people and families for a lifetime.