New York, NY, United States (4E) – Data from two black-box recorders recovered from the derailed Metro-North commuter train indicate it was overspeeding and the brake applied late at a curved track near the historic Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx on Sunday.
The train was speeding at 82 mph instead of the 30 mph limit at the sharp curve while the throttle was engaged six second before the locomotive came to a stop on its side, and the brakes were fully applied only five seconds before, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said Monday, according to NBC News. All seven cars of the train tumbled at the curve and jumped off the tracks.
Weener said investigation continues to determine if engineer William Rockefeller, 45, was at fault for slowing down late or the brakes failed. The train coming from Poughkeepsie and bound for Grand Central Terminal made nine stops before coming to the curve and derailing indicating the brakes were working, according to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the turn is tricky but not to be blamed as trains negotiate it all day long. He thinks human error was the culprit in the accident.
Rockefeller, who has been an engineer for 15 years, had told supervisors he hit the brakes but the train did not slow down. Federal investigators are grilling Rockefeller and checking his cell phone. They also subjected him to a drug and alcohol test, the results of which are pending.
Tony Bottalico, general chairman of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, described Rockefeller as having an impeccable work record, well-liked by his co-workers and trusted.
The accident happened at 7:22 a.m. ET on Sunday with about 150 passengers aboard the train. Four passengers were killed, including two who were thrown outside the derailed cars. The dead victims were identified as Jim Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y.; James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.; Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y.; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens.
Sixty-three other passengers were injured with three in critical condition and 19 still hospitalized on Monday.
Train service on the Hudson Line between Tarrytown and Grand Central Terminal is suspended for a week or more.