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Amtrak Engineer Blamed In NYC Train Crash

Apr 20, 2004 | AP

The engineer of an empty Amtrak train that rear-ended a crowded Long Island Rail Road commuter train was responsible for the crash, investigators said Tuesday. The accident left 127 people with mostly minor injuries.

The Monday morning rush hour collision "was caused by human error on the part of the engineer of Train 183, the Amtrak train," Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel said.

An investigating committee comprised of Amtrak, LIRR and federal railroad officials found the engineer failed to comply with regulations governing restricted speed. "You must be able to stop your train short of another train," Stessel said.

The engineer, whose identity was withheld by Amtrak, has been suspended without pay. Stessel said a formal investigation is pending and further action may be taken. Amtrak was awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests.

The LIRR train was waiting in a tunnel to enter Pennsylvania Station when it was hit from behind by a crew-only Amtrak train moving at less than 15 mph.

"All of a sudden there is a thunderous crash from behind and we all go flying into one another," said LIRR commuter Bob Buchmann, 46, program director of WAXQ Radio. "It was thunderous, and it was violent.

"From the train crew to the passengers who rose up to the occasion, it was really handled well," he added.

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