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Investigators Probe Train Operator’s Actions in LIRR Accident

In the days and weeks following a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) accident that injured about 100 people, federal investigators continued to scrutinize the behaviors of the engineer, including his sleep pattern, whether he was texting, what he had been eating and various other factors that may have played a role in the crash.

According to a spokesperson from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), experts regularly analyze whether tracks, signals, mechanics and human error or performance issues led to an accident. Some officials had questioned the 50-year-old engineer’s health and whether he had fallen asleep on the job. He had been working an overnight shift, and it was getting close to the end of the night. One federal source suggested sleep apnea could have been a factor and could explain erratic train movements that occurred just before the crash.

What do investigators examine?

Aside from reviewing the sleep-rest cycle of the engineer and screening for drugs and alcohol, investigators also look at the engineer’s training records, medical history and other relevant personal factors. For example, had the engineer recently experienced a major stress event? Were there other factors that could have been detrimental to his ability to perform his job safely?

In many cases, the NTSB releases preliminary accident reports on train crashes within 30 days. At that time, the public will have more information about what, in the investigators’ opinion, the primary causes of the accident were.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving public transportation, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP for more information on your options.