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Technology, engineer’s story could be only way to truly understand what happened in Hoboken train crash

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HOBOKEN -- Transportation attorney David Cook says the only way to truly understand what led up to Thursday's Hoboken train accident is if the man at in control of the train fully opens up and cooperates with investigators, "no one will know the explanation unless he tells us."

Cook, has been practicing law for 42 years, and took his first train case more than 20 years ago. Since then, he has worked severable notable deadly accidents for Kreindler and Kreindler in Manhattan.

Cook, a proponent for positive train control, says that the NTSB's lab should have no issues determining whether or not there was a mechanical failure once both event recorders are examined. NTSB investigators were still unable to secure the recorder inside of the front car as a result of the unstable structural integrity of the train station.

In fact, investigators never went into the site on Friday.

Once the key recorder is secured, Cook says it should take no more than a week to ten days have a strong indication of what probably happened. It will also indicate if the train alert system where the train engineer was stationed was operating properly, "If he doesn't respond to that, they know something is really wrong."

PIX11 News spoke with a rail executive involved with recent deadly crashes along the lines of the Metro North who indicated that NTSB investigators will go back as much as 72 hours in the engineers life, to examine his lifestyle prior to the crash.

Cook says it is all about understanding the big picture, "They want to see what his sleep patterns were like, what his eating patterns were like, what his medications -- if any -- he was taking to see what contributing causes there were."

Cook also adds that what has become a common practice in the 24 hours after an accident, is that prior to investigators speaking with the engineer, the engineers will have spoken with union officials and/or legal counsel.

When asked how often this happens, Cook summed it up in four seconds, "Almost always. It's rare that it doesn't happen."