'Texting' May be Responsible for California Train Disaster

Dennis Faas's picture

On September 12, the west coast was rocked by the worst train accident in fifteen years. Twenty-five people died that day, with another 135 injured. Now that a few weeks have passed since the disaster, investigators are starting to piece together just what might have caused the tragedy.

In case you missed it, on September 12 a Metrolink commuter train slammed into a Union Pacific locomotive in Chatsworth, California. Since that fateful day, the National Transportation Safety Board has desperately searched for answers that might explain the kind of event that doesn't happen very often -- rarely do trains cause such unbelievable destruction.

First to be investigated by the Safety Board has been Robert Martin Sanchez, the 46-year-old engineer at the helm of the Metrolink that morning. Sanchez, whose life was cut short in the crash, allegedly failed to heed warnings that may have prevented the disaster. (Source: go.com)


According to reports, Sanchez's cell phone lit up the afternoon of the crash. Records show that the engineer received a number of text messages throughout September the 12th; he sent 24 and received 21 between 6:44 am and 8:53 am; he sent seven and received another five between 3:00 pm and the time of the accident, 4:22:23 pm. Sanchez reportedly received a text message at 4:21:03 pm and then sent another at 4:22:01 pm -- seconds before the accident occurred. (Source: reuters.com)

Precise correlation between the actual send and receive times has not been confirmed. However, local television station KCBS reported that a teenager received a text message from Sanchez seconds before the Metrolink plowed into the Union Pacific locomotive.

California authorities responded to the news by banning all railroad workers from using their cell phones on the job.

A sad story, it should send shockwaves through legislatures still pondering the influence of cell phones on drivers and machine operators.

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