NTSB Confirms Train Engineer Sent Text Messages While on Duty

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that the engineer controlling a Metrolink commuter train in the Los Angeles area that was involved in a head-on collision during rush hour last Friday, killing him and 24 other people, sent and received text messages that day from his cell phone, including some messages while he was on duty. NTSB, which obtained engineer Robert Sanchez's phone records, apparently has not determined whether he was sending or receiving messages at the time of the crash.

The Sept. 12 collision between the commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., injured about 130 people. NTSB investigators asked for records of Sanchez's cell phone calls and text messages from the service provider. "The Board today received some of those records, which indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty," NTSB said in a Sept. 17 release posted on its Web site. "The Safety Board will correlate those records with other investigative information to determine as precisely as possible the exact times of those messages in relation to the engineer's operation of his train."

NTSB has determined the brakes on the Metrolink train were not applied before the collision and stop signals at the crash location were working properly, board member Kathryn Higgins has said.

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