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Train Derailment Result Of Excessive Speed, NTSB Reports

Earl Weener is joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.
Earl Weener is joined by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York. Photo Credit: Suzanne Samin

YONKERS, N.Y. -- The Metro-North Hudson Line train derailment resulting in the death of four people and injuries to many others on Sunday was a result of excessive speed, the National Transportation Safety Board announced at a press conference at the Hampton Inn in Yonkers on Monday afternoon.

Earl Weener, board member of the NTSB, said the train was traveling through a 75-mph zone at a staggering 82 mph when it went through a 30-mph curve and derailed.

According to Weener, investigators have yet to rule whether the accident was a result of human error or technical issues.

"It would be premature to say before the investigation is completed," he said.

Weener was accompanied by Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

"When I heard about the speed the train was going, I gulped," Schumer said. "It sort of takes your breath away."

"This train was going way too fast," said Blumenthal.

The black box data recovered from the train suggests the train was brought to a complete stop in an unsafe manner.

Weener said the brakes were at zero pressure six seconds after the engine stopped -- which is to suggest the train went from 80 mph to a complete stop in six seconds.

"That's dangerously fast," said Schumer. "Something was very wrong."

Schumer added that the rails had been inspected and showed little probability of causing the accident.

Weener said the train had made nine stops prior to the derailment, and investigations suggest no problems or anomalies with the braking system.

Schumer said the engineer, William Rockefeller, who has worked for Metro-North for "several years," was also given blood tests for alcohol and drug use, along with forensic evaluations of his cell phone.

The incident, which is the fifth of its kind in six months, has raised serious questions on the safety procedures undertaken by Metro-North.

According to Weener, a low-quality surveillance video from a nearby bridge has been sent to Washington, D.C., for further analysis.

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