Parker Waichman LLP

Engineer Sent Text Message Seconds Before Deadly LA Commuter Train Crash

Federal investigators just confirmed that the engineer of the commuter train that collided with a freight train in California was texting on his cellphone seconds before the crash.  Investigators are also working to draw links with the time on the phone and train and signal recorder data.  The last message the engineer received was at […]

Federal investigators just confirmed that the engineer of the commuter train that <"https://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/train_accidents">collided with a freight train in California was texting on his cellphone seconds before the crash.  Investigators are also working to draw links with the time on the phone and train and signal recorder data.  The last message the engineer received was at 4:21:03, more than one minute prior to impact; the final message he sent was at 4:22:01, just 22 seconds before the trains collided.  The trains—a Metrolink commuter and a Union Pacific freight—were traveling at about 40 miles an hour.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it confirmed the engineer’s texting through his cellphone records and said the engineer, Robert M. Sanchez, 46, who was killed in the crash, sent text messages throughout his shift, which was a split tour of duty.  On the first part of his shift, he operated the train from 6:44 a.m. to 8:53 a.m., and received 21 text messages and sent 24.  On the second part of the shift, which lasted from 3 p.m. until the time of the crash at 4:22, Sanchez sent five messages and received seven.  Although it was unclear with whom he was texting, some teens–describing themselves as rail buffs—told media that just before the crash they exchanged messages with Sanchez.  Investigators obtained the teens’ cellphone records and interviewed them.  The cause of the crash has not been officially determined; however, investigators confirmed the tracks, signals, brakes, and locomotives were operating normally.  Also, while the Union Pacific engineer braked, Sanchez did not.

Michael R. Peevey, president of the state Public Utilities Commission, said Sanchez’s cellphone use is “very, very sad but I think we suspected from the very beginning something like this.”  Peevey added, “It is almost inexplicable how this thing could happen if you had your eyes open and were looking out.”  Tim Smith, the California chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trains, Sanchez’s union, said it supported the cellphone ban.

The California Public Utilities Commission—the office which oversees rail safety—issued an order less than one week following the crash barring train operators from using cellphones other than for emergencies or unless the train is stopped and managers give permission.  The Federal Railroad Administration said it would issue an emergency ban on the use of personal electronic devices.  The commission said it acted in response both to the Metrolink crash and another accident on June 14 on a light rail line in San Francisco in which a dozen people were injured.  That accident might have been caused by inappropriate use of a cellphone.  Metrolink said it forbids cellphone use while operating trains.

Twenty-five people were killed and over 130 were injured in the September 12 crash.  Authorities continue to work to determine if the engineer was sending text messages at the time his train failed to stop for a red signal, which is what led to the deadly collision.

Meanwhile, the Senate just approved—in a 74 to 24 vote—a rail-safety bill sponsored by California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The bill has been approved in the House and would require major railroad and commuter lines to install collision avoidance systems, including automatic braking, by December 31, 2015.

What Our Clients Say About Us
We have worked with thousands of clients and we appreciate them and their positive reviews. Here are just a few recent client reviews...
5 Star Reviews 150
I was extremely pleased with my service! Michele Josama was an absolute gem. She was so kind and professional. She handled my family member’s case and worked diligently on our behalf. We are truly grateful for her hard work!! Thank you so much!!!
Naomi Paul
5 years ago
5 Star Reviews 150
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the following staff at your firm who worked diligently to ensure a positive result in my case...Linda Lockman, Denny Tang, Brett Zekwoski, Joanne Porcelliand and Jillian. Awesome people !! They were very professional, understanding and very patient. My phone calls were answered and/or returned in a timely manner. All my questions were answered without any doubt; they all had a very clear understanding of my case. It was a pleasure to know all of you. I highly recommend your firm.
Lystra Lessey
5 years ago
5 Star Reviews 150
I wanted to give huuuuugeee props to my Medical Coordinator, Joanne. She is professional, sweet, dedicated and committed to listening, comforting, and guiding me through this journey.
SooSweet NY
6 months ago

Why Choose Us to Help You?

We Take Care of Everything
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
No Recovery = No Legal Fees
We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that we only get paid from a portion of your settlement or jury award. If you don't get compensation, you owe us nothing.
Decades of Experience
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
Respected by Our Peers
Judges, insurance adjusters, and fellow attorneys all speak highly of our skills, and we've earned numerous accolades, including a flawless rating from AVVO.
We Have Many Locations To Serve You
We have the experience and the skilled litigators to win your case. Contact us and speak with a real attorney who can help you.
Long Island – Nassau
Parker Waichman LLP
6 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
Long Island – Suffolk
Parker Waichman LLP
201 Old Country Road – Suite 145
Melville, NY 11747
New York
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Queens
Parker Waichman LLP
118-35 Queens Boulevard, Suite 400
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Brooklyn
Parker Waichman LLP
300 Cadman Plaza West
One Pierrepont Plaza, 12th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
New Jersey
Parker Waichman LLP
80 Main Street, Suite 265
West Orange, NJ 07052
Florida
Parker Waichman LLP
27299 Riverview Center Boulevard
Suite 108
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Nationwide Service
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038