NY Metro North Train Derailment – NTSB removes ACRE as a participant in the investigation

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Updated 12/5/2013

The National Transportation Safety Board has pulled a union representing commuter rail employees from its investigation into the derailment of a Metro-North train that killed four people and injured more than 60 others in the Bronx early Sunday. 

The NTSB said late Tuesday that the board removed the Association of Commuter Rail Employees (ACRE) from its status as a participant in the investigation over a press conference held earlier in the day by the union’s general chairman, Anthony Bottalico. 

At the presser, Bottalico admitted that the train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, had dozed off moments before the derailment, which occurred at a sweeping curve in the track near the Spuyten Duyvil station on Metro-North’s Hudson Line.

The NTSB Release stated:

The National Transportation Safety Board today removed the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, or ACRE, as a participant in its investigation into the December 1 derailment of a Metro-North passenger train in the Bronx, N.Y., that killed four people and injured dozens.

Under the NTSB’s procedures, organizations and agencies are invited to provide technical expertise in support of the NTSB’s investigation. The organizations designated as parties sign an agreement to abide by NTSB rules for the duration of the investigation. Maintaining confidentiality of investigative information is one of the rules that parties agree to, further, they agree that their organizations will neither reveal nor comment on investigative information.

On Tuesday, December 3, Anthony Bottalico, General Chairman of ACRE, conducted a press conference and a series of media interviews during which he discussed and interpreted information related to the on-going investigation. As a result of this violation of the party agreement, the organization was advised tonight that it was removed from the December 1 Metro-North train derailment investigation.

“While we value the technical expertise that groups like ACRE can provide during the course of an investigation, it is counterproductive when an organization breaches the party agreement and publically interprets or comments on investigation information,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “Our rules exist to avoid the prospect of any party to an NTSB investigation offering its slant on the circumstances of the accident.”

From NBC News

The engineer who drove the New York commuter train that took a curve at 82 mph and flew off the tracks, killing four people, has been suspended without pay since the crash, a spokeswoman for the transit authority said Thursday.

The engineer, William Rockefeller, has told federal investigators that he was “in a daze situation” before the crash and hit the brakes too late, his lawyer told NBC News earlier this week.

The transit spokeswoman told NBC New York that Rockefeller was suspended immediately after the derailment, as soon as drug test was ordered, according to the policy of the railroad, Metro-North.

Hudson Line Service Update: Full Hudson Line Service resumes Thursday, December 5. Crews from Metro-North  have completed the reconstruction of a second Hudson Line track in the area of Sunday’s derailment, allowing resumption of full service Thursday morning.

Four people were killed and dozens more were injured when a Grand Central-bound Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx early Sunday, one of the busiest travel days of the year as people head home from Thanksgiving gatherings.

Metro-North said four cars on the seven-car 5:54 a.m. train from Poughkeepsie derailed at about 7:20 a.m., just feet from the water as the train was rounding a curve about 100 yards north of the Spuyten Duyvil station. It was due at Grand Central at 7:43 a.m.

For more information, visit http://www.amtrak.com/home or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

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