The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 3, 2013

Union official says NYC train engineer ‘nodded’

YONKERS, N.Y. — An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, nodded at the controls just before the wreck, and by the time he caught himself it was too late, a union official said Tuesday.

William Rockefeller “basically nodded,” said Anthony Bottalico, leader of the rail employees union, relating what he said the engineer told him.

“He had the equivalent of what we all have when we drive a car,” Bottalico said. “That is, you sometimes have a momentary nod or whatever that might be. How long that lasts, I can’t answer that.”

During a late-afternoon news conference, federal investigators said they were still talking to Rockefeller, and they wouldn’t comment on his level of alertness around the time of the Sunday morning wreck in the Bronx.

Separately, however, two law enforcement officials said the engineer told police at the scene that his mind was wandering before he realized the train was in trouble and by then, it was too late to do anything about it. One of the officials said Rockefeller described himself as being “in a daze” before the wreck.

The officials, who were briefed on the engineer’s comments, weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Questions about Rockefeller’s role mounted rapidly after investigators disclosed on Monday that the Metro-North Railroad train jumped the tracks after going into a curve at 82 mph, or nearly three times the 30 mph speed limit. Dozens of people were hurt.

“He caught himself, but he caught himself too late. ... He powered down, he put the train in emergency, but that was six seconds prior to derailment,” Bottalico said.

Rockefeller, who was operating the train from the front car, was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and was released.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Rebels release train with bodies from jet

    HRABOVE, Ukraine — Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll passes 560

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Perry sending Guard troops to border

    AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally. ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Better weather to aid in fire fight

    SPOKANE, Wash. — Calmer winds and cooler temperatures were allowing firefighters to go on the offensive Monday against a destructive wildfire that has charred hundreds of square miles of terrain in Washington State and is the largest in ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Gay, transgender workers gain U.S. bias protection

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday ordered employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the federal government or for companies holding federal contracts, telling advocates he embraced the “irrefutable ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Senate race zeroes in on metro Atlanta, north Ga.

    FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Neither Republican running in Georgia’s closely watched Senate race has a natural advantage in metro Atlanta, where the state’s most populous area and a ring of northern exurbs are serving as the key battleground ...

    July 21, 2014

  • How a flood of kids upset immigration debate

    WASHINGTON — The nation’s yearlong deliberation over immigration has taken a head-snapping detour....

    July 21, 2014

  • Kerry makes bid for cease-fire

    WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East as the Obama administration attempts to bolster regional efforts to reach a ceasefire and sharpens its criticism of Hamas in its conflict with Israel....

    July 21, 2014

  • U.S. outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    WASHINGTON — Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site....

    July 21, 2014

  • Top school may benefit health

    CHICAGO — Disadvantaged teens may get more than an academic boost by attending top-notch high schools — their health may also benefit, a study suggests. Risky health behavior including binge-drinking, unsafe sex and use of hard drugs was ...

    July 21, 2014