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NTSB: No Problem Found With Brakes Of Derailed Train

6:10 PM, Dec 3, 2013   |    comments
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Michael Winter, Theresa Juva-Brown and Lee Higgins, USA TODAY    

Tests performed along the Hudson River route of the Metro-North train that derailed Sunday showed no problems with the brakes before the high-speed crash on a sharp curve, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.

The train's data recorders showed that normal testing of the brakes at stations and en route indicated "no anomalies," NTSB member Earl Weener said at a late-afternoon briefing.

"There's no indication that the brake systems were not functioning normally," he said.

Weener noted that the automatic systems known as positive train control, "possibly could have prevented" the accident, which killed four and injured 63. Data recorders showed the train was traveling 82 mph heading into a 30-mph curve in the Bronx just seconds before the derailment.

Weener also announced that alcohol tests of the engineer, William Rockefeller, and the other crew members were negative.

Investigators Tuesday afternoon were interviewing 46-year-old Rockefeller, who Weener said had been a Metro-North engineer for 10 years. He began driving the Hudson Line full time on Nov. 17.

Rockefeller was in the second day of a routine five-day schedule, and he "would have had time for full restorative sleep" from his usual nine-hour shift the day before, Weener said. Rockefeller reported for work at 5:04 a.m. Sunday; the accident happened at 7:20 a.m.

STORY: Train was going 82 mph into curve before crash

STORY: NTSB already was investigating Metro-North

Local media reported earlier Tuesday that investigators believe Rockefeller may have been distracted or possibly asleep before the crash.

Investigators have not yet looked at data from his cell phone to determine if it played a role.

Rockefeller is "distraught over loss of life," so his interview Monday with investigators was cut short, Anthony Bottalico, of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, told The Journal News of Westchester. "He hasn't slept."

Rockefeller has been swarmed by reporters since he was released from the hospital and has been forced to leave his home in Germantown, N.Y., Bottalico said, declining to say where he is staying.

Bottalico also declined to comment on the preliminary findings regarding the train's speed.

Local media were reporting Tuesday that investigators believe Rockefeller may have been distracted or possibly asleep before the crash.

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