Metrolink Engineer May Have Been Texting

CHATSWORTH, Calif. — Investigators probing a fatal Metrolink crash are looking into whether the train’s engineer sent a text message just before his train crashed into a parked Union Pacific freight train, according to various media reports.

“That would be to me unbelievable,” KTLA quoted Metrolink spokeswoman Denise Tyrrell as saying. “I cannot imagine a scenario where a Metrolink engineer would be texting someone while driving a train.”

Metrolink has already blamed human error for the crash that killed 25 people and injured 130 more. However, the National Transportation Safety Board says it is still investigating.

The wreck is said to be the nation’s worst rail disaster in 15 years.

Officials indicated the train — operated by Veolia Transportation — did not stop at a red light and crashed into the freight train. A Metrolink dispatcher may have tried to warn the engineer about the looming crash, but it was apparently too late.

Investigators say the train’s data recorders retrieved from the crash site should yield important information.

“We will learn a lot from the data recorders from both trains,” said Kitty Higgins of the National Transportation Safety Board. “We will hopefully be able to interview the crewmembers, other witnesses. That will all contribute to our fuller knowledge of exactly why this happened.”

Meanwhile, Amtrak said there will no service by Amtrak Pacific Surfliners and their connecting Thruway Motorcoach buses on Sept. 14, between San Luis Obispo/Goleta and south to Los Angeles, pending restoration of the route. No alternate transportation is available.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and their connecting Thruway Motorcoaches between Los Angeles and San Diego will operate normally.

Also, Amtrak’s Coast Starlight will originate and terminate in Santa Barbara on September 14, with alternate transportation provided between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

— News Wire