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NTSB: Metro-North Engineer in Bronx Derailment Had Sleep Disorder

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TWC News: NTSB: Metro-North Engineer in Bronx Derailment Had Sleep Disorder
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The National Transportation Safety Board has discovered that the engineer running the Metro-North train during last year's Bronx derailment had a sleep disorder.

The NTSB's investigation found that William Rockefeller had sleep apnea. And it says the condition may have been worsened by his move to an early-morning shift a few weeks before the crash.

Four people were killed and more than 70 people injured on December 1st when the speeding train went off the tracks while entering a curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station - a moment in which Rockefeller says he felt "mesmerized."

Rockefeller told investigators he snapped out of his daze an instant before the derailment, saying, "The only thing that shook me out of it was the feeling of the train. Something wasn't right with it, something, and that's when I believed instinctly I had thrown it into emergency. I'm not sure if instinctively I shut it off and threw it into emergency or I just threw it into emergency. And then I was thrown around."

Rockefeller has been named in a $10 million lawsuit against the MTA and Metro-North over the derailment.

The suit cites a federal report that said the railroad emphasized on-time performance over safety.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Post says federal inspectors found more than 7,000 defects and deficiencies with Metro-North over the past decade. But it says records show regulators only launched a full investigation after two major incidents last year.

The Federal Railroad Administration increased inspections after a derailment in Bridgeport in May and the death of a railworker later that month.

However, inspections performed between 2003 and 2013 found a number of problems involving everything from tracks, to passenger and worker safety, to signs and train control.

In a statement, Metro North says its top priority is safety and that the FRA is an important partner in reaching that goal.

A final report into the investigation, along with a determination of probable cause, has yet to be completed.

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