Thursday, December 18, 2014

Follow us:
Follow @NY1 on Twitter Follow NY1 News on Facebook Follow NY1 News on Google+ Subscribe to this news feed 


The Call Blog: Investigation Of Deadly Derailment Focuses On Engineer, Safety Measures

  • Text size: + -

Have something to tell us at The Call? Drop us a line at and we'll post it to our blog.

This really is an unfortunate situation. Either way, this “momentary lapse” has changed this engineer’s life forever along with all those victims on the train. It seems unfathomable that a person with as many years experience would not be aware of such a dangerous curve and would slow down well in advance. While we all have these temporary lapses, a person who is responsible for the safety of hundreds has a higher moral responsibility.

Day three of the investigation into the deadly derailment of a Metro-North train revealed no evidence of brake trouble or problems with track signals. The National Transportation Safety Board also said the engineer driving the train passed drug tests and was in compliance with federal laws that require time off between shifts.

Sources tell NY1 the engineer, William Rockefeller, did not fall asleep and was not using his cell phone before the derailment. Rockefeller did tell investigators he lost focus before entering the curve near the Bronx-Manhattan border. Four passengers died and dozens were injured when the train went off the tracks going 82 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The tragedy is raising questions about whether crash-avoidance technology could have prevented the derailment. The MTA, which runs Metro-North, had just awarded $428 million in contracts in September to develop a system to automatically slow a speeding train down. Governor Cuomo said the rate of speed is "unjustifiable." What do you say?

What's your reaction to today's findings from the NTSB? Based on what you've heard, what is the likely cause of this derailment? Would you welcome automated safety technology if it meant higher fares and tolls? Should all commuter trains be equipped with seat belts?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

it as a tragic accident ..but we all can't stop what we are doing because of it. Our politicians our presidents and mayors have private lives too .leave the man alone. He can't be everywhere at once..and he is not a doctor or a first responder what can he do????

Perhaps Rockefeller suffered from an instance of vasovagal syncope, aka the tendency to faint for no reason. For a few seconds or a few minutes, he lost consciousness, i.e. fainted. Victims of this, of which I am one, recover quickly, but with no knowledge of what happened when unconscious.

Port Richmond,

Of course any new equipment will always help the cause when it concerns safety.
But I feel that this is a route that has been used for years and years and if the
engineer is responsible for slowing down then he should do so. I do know that his
story has changed but today was the last of the safety boards press conferences
and in my opinion the one conducting the press conference didn’t seem to sure about
his answers. We didn’t expect anything to be confirmed but when someone asks a
question about where are the backups located and do they have a so called co-pilot.
Just where were they at the time. To me it was one of many valid questions They
seemed kind of skeptical to answer. So I guess we shall just wait and see what the
outcome will be.
I do feel bad in a way for the conductor because he is in quite a predicament but
someone on TV this evening mentioned that he lost his Health Care.

Morris Park

No train should be going 82 miles a hour even if it is on a stright away much less around a curve that's to fast anything can happen espically when the train pass through the station a person can trip and fall onto the tracks. A system should be developed to automatically slow all trains down even the city trains i wouldn't mind paying more if everyone is safe espically the kids i was thinking about tsking my best friend and her kids to Rye Playland next summer i know the New Haven line goes to Rye but i'm skeptical now we can take the bus from Fordham to Rye all trsains and buses should have seat belts.

Upper West Side

I don't think most of your viewers, including me, are qualified to truly answer the cause question, but I do think it is reasonable to say that crash avoidance technology should be in place. Infrastructure issues often get shrugged off until they become an 'emergency', so it is a more than a little disgraceful to hear that a delay was requested re: the implementation of such technology here. As for seatbelts, I have often wondered why trains are not treated like planes in this regard.


The engineer is probably as good as there is in operating a train. Perhaps he got a little nonchelant and as we all know to well here in NYC " Speed Kills." Hope Cuomo does not make it a political issue.

Park Hill

I don't think there is any correlation between cost to ride the trains and safety. Along stretches of track where the speed limit is 30 miles an hour there should be mechanical ways to slow trains down that are going faster than the speed limits. On the subways there is a lighting system that automatically stops trains when they run thru a red light. With all of the federal tax dollars spent on trains, there ought to be better trains and tracks.

Clinton Hill

I belief in new saftey measures but not with a toll or fare hike. We in the nyc area are the laughing stock of the rest of the country when it comes to fares and toll by the MTA and Port Authority


The motorman fell asleep right before that critical bend in the track? He should have been slowing down well before that turn. It's a shame the union guy stated that he had a momentary lapse. He obviously fell asleep for more than a moment. He should have been slowing down well before that turn. Maybe they should put cameras in the motor cab so we can see what happens. I'm sure the NTSB would have liked to have a visual on this motorman.


The ultimate blame is metro north for not installing the safety device all other railroads including the LIRR have installed.

It is a system that detects excess speed and slows a train down automatically.

This came to be after the 1990 amtrak derailment near Boston.

Very similar circumstances, too fast around a curve.


Automatic self braking system as in new cars. Perhaps train could have sensors for upcoming curves in the rail. Or a pre-programmed route with automatic sensoring


Airlines instituted safety measures that take the controls from a pilot in the event of an emergency. they are now finding that pilots rely on the safety measures too much and have no idea what to do in an actual emergency.


If there was no evidence of brake problems, no cell phone, use, etc. Then what did happen? Mechanical problems ? sounds weird to me. Maintenance for the upkeep of these trains should be done on a regular basis. Is it being done? Makes you wonder.


The Feds need to take over Metro North operations. The equipment roads and the rails are antiquated. Metro North trains are always racing into the Harlem stop.

Its time for a major leadership change. Feds or rehire Joe Lhota


How about a safety measurement that prevents the train from going over the speed? my prayers to the families of the people who lost their lives


I'm told that in Disney world the trains/trams have been computer operated for over thirty years so perhaps a system like that might be considered.


the mere fact that he was doing 82 mph in a 30 mph zone is enough evidence for me to charge the guy with 4 counts of manslaughter and 60 counts of assault

Rego Park

How much rest did he get between shifts? Just because he was given an 8 hr break doesn't guarantee that he got any rest at all. An engineer can be sleep deprived for the same reasons that any of us can, family issues, health problems including insomnia, working on secondary projects including 2nd jobs (which is prohibited), etc.

Has he been tested for Sleep Apnea (before or after the tragic incident)?

The sleep - shift disturbance is also very important as others have raised.


I have been informed that there was a diesel engine at the back of the train pushing the train forward. At 82 miles an hour with all those cars behind the engineer and a diesel engine at the back of the train pushing the entire train load, there is no way that the engineer could apply the brakes at that speed and momentum to stop the train.

If the above information is correct regarding the diesel engine at the back of the train, then the brakes would have to be applied at the back of the train to help the engineer at the front brake the train to a complete stop.

Flushing ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP