Human error blamed in Spain train crash
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:12 p.m.
MADRID — The driver was on the phone with a colleague and apparently looking at a document as his train barreled ahead at 95 mph — almost twice the speed limit. Suddenly, a notorious curve was upon him.
He hit the brakes too late.
The train, carrying 218 passengers in eight carriages, hurtled off the tracks and slammed into a wall, killing 79 people.
On Tuesday, investigators looking into the crash announced their preliminary findings from analysis of the train's data-recording “black boxes,” suggesting that human error is the cause of Spain's worst railway disaster in decades.
The derailment occurred near Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwestern Spain, late on July 24. Sixty-six people injured in the crash are still hospitalized, 15 of them in critical condition.
According to the investigation so far, train driver Francisco Jose Garzon Amo received a call from an official of national rail company Renfe on his work phone in the cabin, not his personal cellphone, to tell him what approach to take toward his final destination.
The Renfe employee on the telephone “appears to be a controller,” a person who organizes train traffic across the rail network, said a statement from a court in Santiago de Compostela, where the investigation is based.
“From the contents of the conversation and from the background noise, it seems that the driver (was) consulting a plan or similar paper document.”
The statement on the preliminary findings did not indicate whether such a phone conversation is common between a driver of a moving train and a controller, and it did not say how long the call lasted. It did not name the Renfe official who called the driver, nor did it further describe what plan or document the driver was consulting.
The train had been going as fast as 119 mph shortly before the derailment, and the driver activated the brakes “seconds before the crash,” the statement said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pope Francis is Time’s Person of the Year
- Mandela eulogized as ‘last great liberator’
- Egypt strikes a perilous repose
- Ukraine police move on protesters
- Mexico may open up oil production
- Protesters rip fences, Chevron’s plans
- Defense Secretary Hagel skips visit with Afghan President Karzai
- Taste of free enterprise whets Cubans’ appetite
- Iran presses ahead with uranium
- Autobahn toll plan attracts backlash
- Bali summit yields global trade deal