THE BRONX, NY — The engineer in a 2013 train derailment that killed four people filed a $10 million lawsuit Thursday against Metro-North, blaming the commuter rail for the incident.
Among the claims, engineer William Rockefeller says Metro-North should have equipped the Manhattan-bound train with an automatic braking system that would have stopped the train when it exceeded the posted speed.
Metro-North failed “to modify its signal system, which would have required advanced mandatory speed reductions approaching critical curves and instead, due to its ‘deficient safety culture,’ according to the lawsuit.
In addition, Metro-North should have provided an alerter in the control cab to ensure Rockefeller remained alert and attentive, according to the lawsuit.
Rockefeller allegedly fell asleep at the controls of a Metro-North train that derailed in December 2013, killing four people and injuring 70.
During the crash, Rockefeller was “violently thrown about the cab of the head car," causing him permanent injuries, the suit states.
Due to his injuries, Rockefeller has and will continue to suffer lost wages, physical pain, mental anguish and depression, he alleges.
Rockefeller was never charged in the crash.
He fell asleep because of an undiagnosed sleep apnea combined with a shift in his work schedule, the National Transportation Safety Board determined. The combination allegedly caused him to take a 30 mph curve at 82 mph.
The NTSB also found that Rockefeller consistently broke the speed limit during several tests before the crash. Data recorders were used to look at train speeds. He broke the speed limit on four of six runs that were tested.
In another deadly crash in the tri-state area, an engineer in a Hoboken incident that killed one woman was also later diagnosed with sleep apnea.
The latter incident prompted New Jersey Transit to ban engineers with sleep apnea to operate trains unless the condition is corrected or under control.