2 Train Crashes, 2 Engineers, 1 Common Disease

Investigators fault same disease in 2 train crashes, push for new rules


(DAVID SCHAPER, NPR)
The NTSB reported Tuesday that engineers falling asleep at the controls led to two recent New York City-area commuter train crashes that killed one person and injured more than 200 others.

The investigative agency has sharply criticized the Trump administration for scrapping a proposed regulation aimed at preventing such fatigue-related events.

NTSB investigators found that the engineers of a New Jersey Transit train that crashed into the Hoboken terminal on Sept. 29, 2016, and a Long Island Rail Road train that crashed at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn on Jan. 4, 2017, suffered from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts sleep repeatedly through the night and has been shown to cause daytime drowsiness.

The NTSB says the common sleep disorder is likely what caused the train operators to nod off as they pulled into the stations.

Both trains were going at higher-than-permitted speeds, accelerating as they entered the stations and smashed through bumping posts at the ends of the tracks. In the Hoboken crash, one woman was killed by falling debris on the platform and 110 people were hurt.

In the Brooklyn crash, 108 people were treated for injuries. In both incidents, the engineers of the commuter trains told investigators they could not remember what happened during the final few minutes preceding the crashes.

Severe obstructive sleep apnea has been cited as the cause of several fatigue-related fatal crashes before, both on the rails and on the roads, as we’ve reported.

Read the full story at NPR.