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Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting

POSTED: 05:40 PM ET, 09/18/2008 by The Editors

Less than a week after one of the worst train accidents in recent U.S. history, California officials today issued a temporary order banning train operators from using cell phones on duty.

Federal transportation authorities say the engineer of a Southern California commuter train who ran a red light and slammed into a freight train last Friday -- killing 25 people and injuring more than 130 others -- was text-messaging on his cell phone. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, who died in the crash, never hit his brakes. [Ed. note: Corrected from original post that identified Sanchez as the conductor.]

Officials say they are investigating a report from a TV station, CBS2, that two 14-year-old boys exchanged messages with the engineer moments before the accident.

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously passed an emergency order to ban the use of cell phones and other personal electronic devices while operating a train.

The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington said today that "records ... indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty."

Federal investigators also are looking into whether Sanchez's back-to-back, split-shift workdays on the Metrolink commuter system, which began before dawn and ended at 9 p.m., could have played a role in the crash.

By The Editors |  September 18, 2008; 5:40 PM ET
Previous: Interior: Losses 'Probable' at Oil Office | Next: Readers' Choice

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



I have become increasingly annoyed and concerned about people using cell phones in public. I cannot count the times I have been bumped into while walking, almost hit by another car or witnessed an accident involving someone who was talking on a cell phone and not paying attention. Women are especially vulnerable. The other night I was in the parking lot of a store when a woman almost hit me with a cart whicle talking on her cell phone. I then saw a clerk from the store running after herwith a bag of groceries. Although he called out to her she kept walking and talking. It was only when he caught up to her and touched her that she jumped startled. I have observed parents with very young children walking across parking lots and streets yaking on the cell phone while their children tag along.And I am also tired of hearing people's personal business. hopefully these things will change.

Posted by: With Purpose | September 18, 2008 6:44 PM

Cell phone use narrows attention as evidenced above, even when headsets are used, tunneling peoples awareness. Cell phone/texting etc should be banned whenever operating a vehicle...I'm no longer astonished to see even bicyclists on cell phones while pedaling...of course without helmets. But drivers, train engineers, pilots, boaters etc etc are even more dangerous...this is a plague!

Posted by: Michael | September 18, 2008 7:01 PM

The engineer was also texting, according to most reports. The conductor, being out of the locomotive, and riding in one of the coaches, wouldn't be able to see any signals and therefore his texting wouldn't be as dangerous as the engineer, unless he was texting the engineer, too.

Posted by: avlisk | September 18, 2008 7:04 PM

You are four (4) times more likely to be in the car crash if you are on the phone while driving. It's the concentration issue. A hands free device doesn't change anything.

Posted by: Steve Savasky | September 18, 2008 7:05 PM

Those boys that text the engineer are train enthusist, they know the ins and outs of a train and all the rules and they knew the engineer had to pay attention while controlling that train, but they still text him. They should be blamed for this.

Posted by: everyday LIRR passenger | September 18, 2008 7:08 PM

It has been known for years that simply talking on a cell phone increases a driver's risk of accident as much as being legally drunk. This was established by a Canadian study in the early nineties. Text messaging would seem to be even more distracting.

Unfortunately it will take many more highly publicized multiple-fatality accidents, probably with at least one involving a school bus full of children, before any action is taken.

Posted by: John | September 18, 2008 7:09 PM

I guess laws have to be imposed when people are to stupied to police themselves. Being responceable for 100,s of other peoples lives, and placing them at risk by talking or tex. mes. on the cell phone, is like having an Idiot flying the jumbo jet! Who hired this guy????

Posted by: C.Brown | September 18, 2008 7:10 PM

Nice job of getting the basic fact wrong- Sanchez was the engineer, not the conductor. Quite a mistake.

Posted by: P Lotz | September 18, 2008 7:10 PM

The train engineer was texting, not the conductor. So sad. Did you really go to journalism school? In the other WP story linked by this "blog" - someone wrote that the conductor was interviewed about the engineer texting - so presumably the conductor was not killed in the crash.

Posted by: 13 and K | September 18, 2008 7:12 PM

What is so important that everyone needs to be so connected all the time? You know what, most everyone's life is not that interesting, sorry. It is terribly unfortunate that the conductor died, as he does not have to live with this. I see it all the time as well, almost hit head on by a deliver truck today because driver couldn't decide where to turn. Surprise, as he passed, on the phone. Just hang up, and talk some other time. Really, nobody cares that much about what you do every 15 minutes.

Posted by: why? | September 18, 2008 7:12 PM

It's too bad he died in the wreck. I would have relished seeing him stand trial for 25 murder counts. Once again, the technology exists that could have prevented the accident brought on by such stupidity. We should demand it on all public transportation. Wait,... did I say accident? Wrong, it was willful disregard of human life resulting in death(s). A good definition of murder. The only justice in all of this is that he was the first to die because of his own wreckless stupidity.

Posted by: Chet Dorris | September 18, 2008 7:12 PM

To the dummies who wrote this story. Check your facts next time. As noted in previous posts, Sanchez was the engineer, not the conductor. Stand by for a lawsuit coming your way.

Posted by: Highball | September 18, 2008 7:14 PM

Text Messaging and Cell Phone annoyance is becoming an epidemic addiction.

One of the worst issue: People text messaging or on cell phone while talk to you. You the: Bank Teller, Retail employee, Gas Station Attendant, Restaurant Employee, etc. They hold the line. The ignore you trying to provide customer service etc.
E.g Imagine you trying to ring person up and they are ignoring you.

A Minor Issue: Text Messaging or on Cell Phone while you are using the bathroom doing your disposal duties.

Posted by: Time Clock | September 18, 2008 7:16 PM

I concur. Cell phone, and texting is way out of hand. It IS a potent distraction, and sadly, a very deadly one too. I don't know what the answer is to it, but obviously it needs to be addressed. Rules can be in place, but how do you know if someone is using their text during work? Employees would almost have to be subject to a pat-down before boarding the train. Maybe that's what we need. I have a friend whose 14 year old daughter text messaged over 2700 times in one month.

Posted by: mike | September 18, 2008 7:16 PM

I guess his last txt msg wz:
WTF! O sht!

Posted by: thebob.bob | September 18, 2008 7:19 PM

This is really sad--I remember a few months ago, five high school graduates in a car were killed when the driver became distracted by text messaging and slammed head first into a truck. What a shame, a tragic waste.

Posted by: FilmMD | September 18, 2008 7:19 PM

It was the Engineer... If there was a conductor on the LOCOMOTIVE of the train, witch is NOT REQUIRED on passenger trains this accident most likley would mot havre happened

Posted by: Cory | September 18, 2008 7:21 PM

We are from the LA area, the story gets deeper. Robert Sanchez was a homosexual whose partner (who was dying of AIDS) hung himself in their garage in Crestline, CA. After he was done grieving for his 'soul mate' he began going out with friends. He, at first, took out a female to weekly lunches and they would discuss dog breeding and dog showing. One day she said she was too busy for lunch and he hung up abruptly replying, "That's fine!" and never talked with her again. In the last few weeks he met some YOUNG boys. These boys were minors 14 years old and their names have not been disclosed. They were supposedly 'train enthusiasts' and he was very communicative with them. So much so he was text messaging these young boys just seconds before his commuter train impacted with the Union Pacific train. The Union Pacific train tried to brake, there is no evidence of Sanchez even attempting to do so. There is incontravertable evidence that he was texting these young boys at the time of the accident and incontrovertible evidence that he ran a red light. So this is another case of a distracted driver that cost the lives of innocents.

http://www.sbsun.com/search/ci_10465041?IADID

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-me-engineer17-2008sep17,0,6452601.story?page=2

Posted by: wunderbunny | September 18, 2008 7:22 PM

ANYONE NOTICE THE GUY'S NAME .... SANCHEZ! WE NEED TO FIX OUR BROKEN BORDERS AND GET OUR NATION BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK! HAHAHAHA!
HUSSEIN OBAMA ISN'T GONNA DO IT.

Posted by: RandyForPalinMcCain2008 | September 18, 2008 7:23 PM

I am a road construction inspector. I would estimate that about 90% of the people who fail to follow the directions of flaggers and/or our traffic control setup are using cellphones at the time. The majority of the rest who become disoriented are elderly. Cellphone users are a hazard to all highway workers. Anywhere there is blasting, we post a sign that bans cellphones and two-way radios but most people ignore them. I hope they pass a law soon to ban them while driving.
I can't even begin to count the times I have been nearly run over by a driver on the phone.

Posted by: thelastmoderate | September 18, 2008 7:24 PM

Heres the problem. States like California who passed laws stating that it is okay to use a cell phone while driving, provided it is hands free, are telling all these idiots that they are perfectly safe when talking on a phone and driving. The California legislature has completely missed the point. It is the constant distraction of the phone call that creates the safet problem, not whether or not your hands are free.

Posted by: Geo | September 18, 2008 7:26 PM

Not one response hit the nail on the head. Texting and cell phone use in a car is legal because AT&T, Verizon and the others pay the politicians keep it that way.

Talk to your representative and tell her to stand up for your, the citizen's rights for a change... Or better yet text her.

Posted by: Stu, Reno | September 18, 2008 7:28 PM

Why is there only ONE train conductor?

Texting is one thing. What if he suddenly got explosive diarrhea and had to run to the lavatory? What if he passed out for an undiscovered health issue? What about a heart attack?

There should be more than one conductor on a train. Airplanes have a co-pilot. Trains should have a co-conductor.

Safety devices have not been installed because it's too expensive. The lawsuits are going to get even more expensive, even if the $200 million cap per suit is exercised.

Posted by: Dan | September 18, 2008 7:30 PM

When you are driving a vehicle, there is only one thing to do, watch the road for all the jerks out there, don't speed, and stop weaving from lane to lane. Even tuning the radio can be distracting. Car radios need to be simple things with few switches and gizmos. I once rode with a guy who pulled out his laptop in stop-and-go traffic on the 405 to show me an e-mail he had sent. We almost rear-ended someone. Never again.

Posted by: Bill | September 18, 2008 7:34 PM

I rode Metrolink for several years. Our conductor always used a cell phone, mainly to talk to the engineer during the commute. I was a front car rider. I always assumed that the trains had a computer fail-safe for pulling off to a side track to let a freight train pass. Knowing know that it's all human navigation kinda scares me now. It was an almost daily occurrence to let a freight train pass and we always had an announcement from the conductor that there would be a delay. There had to have been more of a breakdown in communication than just a missed light...

Posted by: D Smtih | September 18, 2008 7:34 PM

what does him being gay have to do with anything. He was still texting on a cell phone. I work in retail and when people that I'm trying to help answer a call when I'm helping them is very irritating. I walk away from them now,I don't care if they get mad they are just rude. Cell phone use in a vehicle while moving should be outlawed. And if caught should be the same punishment as a DUI.

Posted by: mickymanatiso | September 18, 2008 7:34 PM

Oh, and I'm sure no one commenting on this page has EVER been distracted while driving a car. Played with your radio while you were driving? Put on make-up? Ate? You're just as culpable and irresponsible. There have been problems with distracted driving since the automobile was created (I'm sure some of you remember that?) It didn't start when the younger generation and their "evil" texting came around, and it won't stop anytime soon. And the guy who said women are more vulnerable to texting and phone distractions? Seriously pathetic.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 7:34 PM

I think this article is incorrect. I believe Sanchez was the engineer, not the conductor. The conductor survived the crash.

Posted by: Margaret | September 18, 2008 7:34 PM

IT'S TRAGIC THAT IT TAKES AN ACCIDENT LIKE THIS TO BRING OUT A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE NEGATIVES OF CELL PHONES. THEY CAN BE DANGEROUS TO BE SURE, BUT THERE'S EVEN MORE. CELL PHONE USE HAS BECOME A MAJOR ANNOYANCE FOR ME, AT LEAST--SO MUCH SO THAT I WOULD LIKE TO LIVE IN A TOTALLY CELL PHONE-FREE ENVIRONMENT. WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?!

Posted by: doug | September 18, 2008 7:36 PM

I agree with all of the comments about distracted operators, but I'm very annoyed at the tendency of our politicians to jump on the band wagon, and use a tradigy like this to get their names in the press. There is already a company policy prohibiting the use cell phones (including text) ... so what do you think will influence the engineers more, the threat of violating company policy and loosing their job, or the threat of violating a CPUC order and getting fined $100.00?

Posted by: annoyed | September 18, 2008 7:37 PM

HEY RANDY- ITS 2008. GET A LIFE, AND OPEN UP YOUR EYES... APPARENTLY YOU DON'T HAVE FEELINGS BECAUSE IF YOU DID, YOU WOULD FEEL COMPLETELY EMBARRASSED, AND STUPID POSTING A COMMENT LIKE THIS....

ANYONE NOTICE THE GUY'S NAME .... SANCHEZ! WE NEED TO FIX OUR BROKEN BORDERS AND GET OUR NATION BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK! HAHAHAHA!
HUSSEIN OBAMA ISN'T GONNA DO IT.

Posted by: RandyForPalinMcCain2008 | September 18, 2008 7:23 PM

Posted by: OPENYOUREYES | September 18, 2008 7:39 PM

Thanks to all who pointed out our original error in referring to Sanchez as the conductor. He was the engineer. The story has been corrected. We regret the mistake.

Posted by: The Editors | September 18, 2008 7:40 PM

RandyForPalinMcCain2008 -
OT, but check out the McCain/Kenndey Amensty Bill. McSame is also pro-illegals. I faxed and called my little fingers off to defeat it. McSame was a proponent.

I am an Independent, who is staying home in November. Sanchez is probably an American of Hispanic decent.

An illegal is a differnt matter.

Posted by: Gail- Los Angeles | September 18, 2008 7:42 PM

This is all just a made up story to make the press and people come to a conclusion.
The real thing is still on or might be closed due to the pressure from people and government.

Big things should always come to a conclusion, so this ends in this way.

Posted by: Paul | September 18, 2008 7:47 PM

That is wht there is http://www.cranewatch.com

Posted by: ray | September 18, 2008 7:49 PM

There are so many people at my school tat keep texting in class when the teacher is talking. It's very annoying they shouldn't do that 'cause than they keep asking other people what the missed whrn they weren't lisening and while you are trying to explain to them you are missing part of the lesson. Than is hard to keep up. I think cell phones should be banned at school. they cause too much trouble.

Posted by: Alba | September 18, 2008 7:55 PM

Is there not ONE article I can read on the internet where racism rears doesn't its ugly head in the reader comments? What in the world does the fact that this man was Latino have to do with ANYTHING!?! What's WRONG with you, Randy? And why slam BARAK Obama while you're dissing Hispanics?

-------------------------------------------

ANYONE NOTICE THE GUY'S NAME .... SANCHEZ! WE NEED TO FIX OUR BROKEN BORDERS AND GET OUR NATION BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK! HAHAHAHA!
HUSSEIN OBAMA ISN'T GONNA DO IT.

Posted by: RandyForPalinMcCain2008

Posted by: Zoe Grace | September 18, 2008 7:55 PM

I still do not know what correlation being gay with a hispanic last name has in this article. It sounds like someone hired the wrong person for the job, regardless.

Posted by: gay immigrant | September 18, 2008 7:56 PM

I can't tell you how many times I've been on the bus or shuttle where the driver was texting, talking on the phone, or even watching a movie on their laptop! They need to crack down on this sort of thing, especially for public transportation. Knowing the way things work, this won't trickle down to the rest of the MTA only apply to the metro.

Posted by: Wes | September 18, 2008 8:01 PM

I think driving while text messaging helps clean out our Gene pools. Every once in awhile algae developes.

Posted by: Fortiss | September 18, 2008 8:01 PM

reading these comments is scary. FREEDOM that means when you are in public you can BE GAY, READ, BE BLACK, EAT, BE JEWISH, BE MUSLIM, BE ATHEIST, VOTE, and o' lord even talk on a phone! one of those infernal machines! get a grip people, if you want to curtail peoples freedom to communicate with friends and loved ones, what are you prepared to give up that may annoy them?

Posted by: alex | September 18, 2008 8:02 PM

"I believe him being gay was a factor of the crash" ... "ANYONE NOTICE THE GUY'S NAME .... SANCHEZ! WE NEED TO FIX OUR BROKEN BORDERS"

Huh? The level of blind hatred that some people have just amazes me. (And no, I'm neither gay nor Mexican.)

Posted by: tsm | September 18, 2008 8:03 PM

I don't understand how texting caused an accident of this magnitude. Surely for 2 trains to crash head-on, there must have been a bigger issue than whether or not someone applied the brakes on time.

Posted by: Lesley Webster | September 18, 2008 8:04 PM

Thank you everyone for all of your important comments on this incident.

I believe that there should be a law that anyone who has had a close friend die by hanging in a garage withing 30 days, should be prohibited from driving a train. If we had this law, this accident would not have happened.

Also, we should prohibit any one who conducts a train from talking, chewing, reading, scratching, as well as cell phoning or texting, so that their full attention is paid to the tracks ahead. We should ban all thinking about anything that does not have to do with driving the train.

I think that the Governor should be impeached, since we did not have this law.

I also wonder if the train driver properly checked the oil prior to the trip. Maybe he was worried about that also.

Posted by: Name is Mudd | September 18, 2008 8:04 PM

Nice Alex (post above this), I guess even killing 25 because your being selfish and not caring about other people around you is a great example of how good freedom can be great.

Posted by: Fortiss | September 18, 2008 8:05 PM

"I think driving while text messaging helps clean out our Gene pools. Every once in awhile algae developes."

I think it's too bad you weren't on the train, then.

Posted by: James M. | September 18, 2008 8:06 PM

NO train driver should EVER be texting or anything else. Neither should any CAR driver. YOu know what I saw at 2 PM TODAY on Franklin near Bronson? A woman with 3 little kids in the car, trying to make a turn into very heavy traffic -- while holding her cell phone and gabbing on it. Of course, as the pedestrian with the right of way, I had no chance. I shouted into her car, "GET OFF THE PHONE! YOU HAVE THREE LITTLE KIDS YOU ARE TRYING TO PROTECT!!" What a zombie.

Posted by: transport dangers | September 18, 2008 8:08 PM

Give me a break - is Southern California Rail saying their only protection against a train running a signal is the attention span of one engineer? I find that hard to believe. If every train depends on 1 guy to keep from taking the wrong track, that doesn't sound like much of a safety net to me - what about automated tracking systems that are supposed to detect potential collisions? I'm sure they must exist and that they have been standard practice for years. I guess blaming an engineer is a convenient way to avert negligence lawsuits directed at the railroad company - after all, the engineer is dead and can't defend himself.

Posted by: JamesInSeattle | September 18, 2008 8:09 PM

fortiss, read the beginning of my post, it was in response to the comments for the banning of use of phones in public places.
Reading is still a allowed so feel free to exercise that privilege while people like yourself still allow it.

Posted by: alex | September 18, 2008 8:09 PM

Whoever said it was they boys' fault is way out of line here. Since when are we leaving the safety of our public transportation up to 14-year-olds? Come on, it was the engineer driving the thing that had sole responsibility for the operation of the vehicle, including whether or not to respond to text messages. Let's also remember that no one has established a causality yet--only that he happened to be texting at the time of the accident. Maybe it played a role, maybe it didn't. Maybe he sneezed.

Posted by: Jason B | September 18, 2008 8:10 PM

If hispanics followed the laws in California then no one would "dis" them. I am tired of illegal Mexican street vendors, laborers (getting paid under the table), driving without a license, neglecting their kids (another 1 year old mexican drowns in an unattended pool -- ironically she was a citizen because of our Constitution), selling bootleg DVDs, not paying taxes, breaking traffic laws, getting drunk and shooting people, raping children in their own households, lying to welfare about income and collecting food stamps and cash aid, getting free education, free lunch, letting their pit bull dogs run wild in our streets and mauling people to death, tagging up my neighborhood, refusing to learn English and can't understand why they cannot achieve in college, going through my trash cans, having 16 cats, living 15 people to a household, having this sense of entitlement, believing that Califonia belongs to them, illegal dumping, beating to death a WW2 vet with bar stools(America's most wanted), giving a 2 year old baby meth and shaking it to death, murdering my best friend and fleeing to Mexico. I like mexicans that follow the laws, all the rest I could do without.

Posted by: wunderbunny | September 18, 2008 8:10 PM

I remember about 25 or so years ago a similar accident involving a New Jersey Transit commuter train running stop signals at a similar switch and running into a (Conrail?) freight. Unfortunately the rescue crews first had to locate a dirt service road in the meadowlands area to even get to the location. The commuter train was heading for the PATH commuter hub which brought riders to NYC underground, except each signal had a brake tripping device that would stop a train that passed a red signal. For all anyone knows the engineer may have passed out or died in the control cab and even the "Dead Man" switch could have been fooled by his body still pressing against it. Speculation is just that. Wait for the NTSB to detect what really happened and don't judge without the facts.
By the way, what happened to the Union Pacific crew? They are in my prayers too. Post Traumatic Stress will haunt them and all the passengers even with the counseling I hope they are receiving.

Posted by: Popsey | September 18, 2008 8:10 PM

As an airport worker, I see so many idiot ground crews driving around airport taxiway while talking on the cell phone. I surprise the FAA has not don't anything about that. It has become an American culture not to care about anything.. Look at the cars we built and the finance we keep. They are all failing.

Posted by: guest | September 18, 2008 8:10 PM

Everyday LIRR Passneger - In re: to your comment on holding the boys responsible. Regardless of whether THEY knew better or not. The Engineer is ulitimatey responsible. HE KNEW BETTER, being the adult. He shouldn't even be checking his phone during work hours, unless break.

That's the problem today NO ONE is willing to take responsiblity for their own actions. Always wanting to place blame on others. Why is it always someone elses fault?

Posted by: Ang | September 18, 2008 8:11 PM

The most useless device created, the cell phone. Daily they are used as an appendage by the humans that have them. Most of what is said on them doesn't need to be said. Just more drivel to fill the time. They also work to convince us of the urgency of our day and the need to do more and get more done at a faster pace.

The time when they could be used to a benefit , emergencies. They are more often the cause of the emergency than an aid in securing help.

Hey people, 99% of what is communicated over them can wait till later.

Like the hamster has it's wheel to nowhere, people have cell phones.

Posted by: Michael | September 18, 2008 8:12 PM

From reading these comments I see that even adults flame each other. we're a society filled with hatred. that is human nature. Your best off not worry about others and just focus on yourself and do your best at things.

No matter who is to blame, the boys, the engineer, faulty equipment.

To err is human, and technologically advanced equipment is known to fail. There is not much we can do about it.

Its unfortunate when innocent people's lives are lost. Especially if they are young children with so much to live for.

All you can do is be careful when you go about your daily business. Be smart. In the process of evolution all the dumb ones are killed off. And sometimes things the dumb ones do kill off the more intelligent.

When you choose public transportation, sit in the middle if you can. Like with any child seat you put it in the back seat in the middle seat so that the child is most centered and will have more of a chance during a collision.

Sometimes you can't help these things, so you just have to hope for the best.

As you can see your life can get cut short at any moment, so be happy, be kind, and enjoy life.

Posted by: B | September 18, 2008 8:13 PM

In the "jumping to conclusions department," I don't see any new information about whether or not the engineer (yes, the gay Mexican for those of you obsessed about that sort of thing) was text messaging at the time of the accident. The last thing that the read that had been quasi-verified was that someone had RECEIVED a text message from the engineer at 4:22 pm and the accident took place at 4:23 pm. My understanding is that the relevant cell phone records have been subpoenaed by the NTSB but not yet produced. The bottom line is that no one seems to know yet when he actually SENT his last text message. It is not at all inconceivable that his text message was cached at the Chatsworth station (while he was on-duty, but while the train was stationary). Obviously the content of the text message could shed some light of this, but my understanding is that this information has not been released. Obviously, the readers who hate gays and Mexicans don't care about facts like this, but I think that the WP does its more thoughtful and less-bigoted readers a huge disservice with the technically accurate, but misleading headline "Engineer in Deadly LA Train Crash Was Texting," and by by not explaining that all of the facts are not in.

Posted by: tsm | September 18, 2008 8:16 PM

- All who hired that sick person should be blamed(also,no periodic health screening on these positions are required?)How about
the background investigation?
- I have seen in Europe this summer that many metro trains are operated by two and not one person.It's a normal precaution for the safety of passengers.The Metro is full of PEOPLE and not BOXES !
And they are looking on the rail road,they are mostly women who are very
attentive.(I am a man who is objective in
this regard.)

Posted by: Joseph | September 18, 2008 8:18 PM

I believe that if he had indeed not had a cell phone at the time that the crash would not have existed!!!!!!!

Posted by: Turtle Queen | September 18, 2008 8:19 PM

Uh Oh! An accident happened. Who should we blame for the ACCIDENT? Nobody is perfect. Give the guy a break.

Get it "a break"

Don't worry everyone, with this new ban on cell phones there will be nothing else to distract them like radios, newspapers, fellow employees, bosses...

Posted by: Common Sense | September 18, 2008 8:20 PM

I really don't understand how most of you are missing the point. Cellphones are not the cause of the accident it was the stupid idiot who didn't break! No one takes responsibility for their actions any more, it's always someone else's fault. Why don't people quit being stupid?

Posted by: Houndz | September 18, 2008 8:21 PM

I think I am going to engineer a texting machine that attaches to my head so I don't have to use my hand to text.

Posted by: mbta train engineer | September 18, 2008 8:21 PM

Actually, no one has shown that the texting had anything to do with the accident: "records ... indicate that the engineer had sent and received text messages on the day of the accident, including some while he was on duty."
Nothing says he was texting at the time of the incident. Nothing.
Those records are easily available from the phone carrier involved - including the exact timestamp of each message.

Try to avoid jumping to conclusions, especially when the media is co-operating with the Federal authorities to help you make the leap.

Posted by: Emmonak | September 18, 2008 8:22 PM

it could not have been the fault of one man who did not apply the brakes. there must have been mistakes earlier down the line for the two trains to be on a head-on course.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 8:23 PM

Don't worry everyone, let the government solve all of our problems. We are not able to solve them for ourselves obviously. We don't need freedom!

Posted by: BIGGovernment | September 18, 2008 8:24 PM

RandyForPalinMcCain2008 that was an insensitive post regarding the name Sanchez. You should be ashamed of yourself for making such an ignorant statement. Absolutely appauling! You disgust me!

Posted by: jack of all | September 18, 2008 8:27 PM

wunderbunny and others:

Nothing in any of the articles anywhere says he was gay. And, being gay doesn't equal being a pedophile. In fact, statistically, pedophiles are most often straight! The guys you gotta worry about aren't the ones you know are gay or even the ones you suspect are gay. Pedophiles aren't stupid. Any pedophile with an ounce of common sense isn't going to scare away their prey by acting gay! If he was chatting with teens as a means to groom them then you can be darn sure he didn't look or act the least little bit gay. And he most likely wasn't gay. So, just leave the gays out of the whole pedophile thing. It's just plain silly. Guys who prey upon boys are pedophiles not gay. Oh, there are gay pedophiles too but not as many as straights and you can be darn sure that YOU would never know they are gay. Pedophiles want to get close to their prey... how many scout leaders do you suppose act like they are flaming gay? They'd ruin their chances of getting close to youth by acting gay or letting anyone know they are gay.

Posted by: bikerval | September 18, 2008 8:31 PM

Ultimately, the buck stops with the CEO of any major corporation...especially if technology has LONG existed that is FAILSAFE: As you will read below, David Solow has been in this position almost 10 years...long enough to know it is time to do the right thing and implement the system!

"David R. Solow was named to run the West Coast's largest commuter rail service in January 1999. As Chief Executive Officer of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, operator of Metrolink, he leads the transit agency that provides a solution to commuter traffic woes for more than 34,000 daily train riders".

If he does not take responsibility and continues to put human life at risk, there will be more accidents and maybe at a higher death toll too!!!

Posted by: NMarie50 | September 18, 2008 8:45 PM

For fixed locations such as schools, trains theatres etc.. cell phone jammers can be employed. See below for example: http://en.wikipedia.orgwikiMobile_phone_jammer
Autos are a different story. A society that is interested in eliminating distracted drivers could incorporate a jammer into the car such that phone use were possible only when the car is not motion..

Posted by: mitch | September 18, 2008 8:45 PM

What do you gays think about texting in school during a lesson?

Posted by: Alba | September 18, 2008 8:47 PM

Sorry i mean guys. My bad.

Posted by: Alba | September 18, 2008 8:50 PM

To the various vicious homophobes out there: Here's an item that you conveniently neglect to mention in your bizarre rantings about the engineer. The LAPD police officer who perished in the crash was also gay. She was given full police honors at her service this morning, which was attended by hundreds of officers -- including her life-partner, also an LAPD officer.

Posted by: tsm | September 18, 2008 8:51 PM

Where is Metrolink? Where have they gone and hid? I find it unbelievable that they allow train "engineers" to use cell phones while driving a train. That is incredible! There has been plenty of research on the subject, and has anyone noticed the Allstate commercial on TV?

And I find it just as incredible that this guy was allowed to drive a train. Doesn't Metrolink screen these people? Metrolink has a responsiblity to the safety of the public while riding their trains, or at least we all thought they did. Metrolink is clueless, and liable in a huge way.

If some heads don't roll, then myself as a citizen and a tax payer is going to be very upset.

And then, to add to it, there is the incredibly stupid idea of commuter trains sharing tracks with freight trains and passenger trains, and thinking that a computer system is going to keep accidents from happening when all the while the train will never stop at the red light unless the engineer unilaterally decides of his own free will and choice to stop it, if he is paying attention, if he is qualified to sit behind the whatever and drive a train.

Have you not noticed? BART has never had a crash (except for the overrun in Fremont, no injuries), much less, a fatal crash, except for suicides, of course. And in the case of the suicides they only managed to kill themselves and cause delays in the system. BART does not share tracks with anybody, or anything. There is no way to park your vehicle on the tracks. Think about it. It is called horse since, unless you have your mind focused on the wrong end of the horse.

Metrolink needs to have its corporate head examined, pronto.

Posted by: Obiwan | September 18, 2008 8:55 PM

I am very concerned for the future of high speed rail, commuter rail, and trollies due to the hysteria an accident of this magnitude can generate.

We need PROFESSIONAL Engineers, Conductors and workers. We need to become less car dependent.

I am sick of the 101 (freeway -Los Angeles area) parking lot. Commuting sucks.

Posted by: Gail-Los Angeles | September 18, 2008 8:56 PM

The cause of this was that two trains were
going in opposite directions on the same
track.

And if put two trains going in opposite
directions you must, then at least install
some proactive electronic systems to stop
the train or automatically switch it to
a side track if it passes the red light.

The fault for these omissions rests squarely
on the people in charge of the train system
and a public that is unwilling to fund
additional rail lines.

Posted by: Dennis Allard | September 18, 2008 8:57 PM

I'd just like to give a shout out to all the homophobes and racists here. Nice to see you're still on the internets.

While texting/cell phone use should absolutely be prohibited while manning a locomotive, the NTSB never concluded that the engineer was in this case texting while driving, only that he had exchanged texts while on shift. The train was one minute out from the previous station stop when the accident occurred (texting in a parked train wouldn't cause a crash) and I find it hard to believe that blowing past one switch and two signals while hitting the ATS response and not hitting the brakes on a route he drove every day could all be attributed to texting. I mean, this might be the case but it's not a foregone conclusion. He's an easy scapegoat because we'll never really know what happened.

We now return you to your bigotry, already in progress.

Posted by: bubum | September 18, 2008 8:58 PM

With deference to "wunderbunny" and others, may I suggest the obvious solution? Clearly, this accident proves that gays and Latinos cannot be trusted to safely operate cell phones. Accordingly, new legislation should be passed, immediately, to ban gays and Latinos (or anyone with a suspicious-sounding name) from owning or operating any wireless device. Presto, no more accidents. (The rules are different for guns, of course, which must still be freely available to anyone with a pulse.)

Posted by: tsm | September 18, 2008 9:07 PM

"On Sept. 2, Sanchez also was reportedly involved in a fatal train crash with a pedestrian. Higgins said the NTSB was looking into the incident."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/18/AR2008091803140.html?hpid=moreheadlines

This Homosexual Mexican killed an innocent just a few days earlier, I don't care if he was a transsexual Lithuanian goat-herder the man was negligent and had no business driving a train. He had no business texting little boys even if it was at Chatsworth station, the boys wouldn't agree with you, however, they went on record saying he texted them 1 minute before impact. Maybe he was committing suicide like his "life partner" did. He was gay read these articles from Southern California Newspapers. He should have been put on probation pending the results from the investigation... Not that gay or mexican really matters, my neighbors are gay mexicans and they are nice. I wouldn't leave my kids alone with them, but that is just me being a protective parent. And that is my choice, just as it is their choice to sodomize.

Check these links for more info about this was a sick twisted man... gay or straight he shouldn't have been operating a train:

http://www.sbsun.com/search/ci_10465041?IADID

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-me-engineer17-2008sep17,0,6452601.story?page=2

The difference between the gay police officer that died and Sanchez is that the police officer wasn't reprehensibly negligent.

Posted by: wunderbunny | September 18, 2008 9:44 PM

It must really suck having to admit that a police officer who died in the line of duty: (1) was gay; (2) wasn't such a bad person after all.

Posted by: tsm | September 18, 2008 10:00 PM

The bottom line is, he was responsible for 220 passengers on the train. He should have been doing his job instead of texting while working. Even if you work at McDonald's and your boss sees you on your cell phone during your shift you will be reprimanded and/or fired. His job requires his full attention, which he was not giving. His job was to make sure that those passengers were safe. He 'straight up' was not doing his job, period end of story.

Posted by: Queenright | September 18, 2008 10:23 PM

Not meaning to say that cell-phone use while on duty is safe, will say that it seems somewhat as if a scape-goat is being edificated here. Why? Because it is awful suspicious that no sooner did the crash take place when "the probable cause" was already out. Heck, the victims were not out, and they had NO WAY of knowing that the conductor was 'text messaging'. ALSO, it is extremely questionable that ALL OF THIS RISK is depending on a 'red light'. Don't they have REALLY LOUD bells that ring anymore? And even BARRIERS that drop and lift automatically? OR, what if the operator has a problem while he is solely responsible to stop the train; don't they have a co-pilot?? It seems to me that the Railroad company is trying to cover up the situation.

Posted by: El Mugroso | September 18, 2008 11:42 PM

Ultimately, the buck stops with the CEO of any major corporation...especially if technology has LONG existed that is FAILSAFE...David Solow/CEO has been in this position almost 10 years...long enough to know it is time to do the right thing and implement the system!

David Solow is El principal responsable!!!

Posted by: NMarie50 | September 19, 2008 11:53 AM

So far, everyone has jumped over an important bit of non-information here. The phone company has NOT said he was texting AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT, only that he was texting "on the day of the accident." Now, it may be that the texting was, in fact, going on as the train ran the red signal, but we don't know that yet. (I assume this is a legal/privacy issue, and the phone records we need to settle this have not been released for that reason.)

I hope they will be able to perform an autopsy. We may find, as someone hinted at before, that Mr. Sanchez suffered a heart attack, stroke or other sudden loss of consciousness.

By the way, I'm also in favor of banning texting/celling while operating trains, heavy equipment, aircraft, cars and even bicycles. All of the arguments for this presented above get my heartiest approval. But, I'd just like to remind people that the facts are not in yet. It may be that the law we need says train engineers need to have their cholesterol checked regularly.

Posted by: Mister Beasley | September 19, 2008 3:37 PM

No one's questioning that a grown man is texting with 14 year old boys?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2008 10:09 AM

Lets outlaw looking at your watch, rolling down windows, or setting the climate controls in the car. It is already a crime to cause an accident by not paying attention, just make the penalty worse. If you ban text messages then there is no precedent to stop banning anything else. Perhaps it should be illegal to remove either hand from the steering wheel for more than a few seconds. How micromanaged do we need to be? Does it really matter to have 4 new laws that are the same and all under enforced or should we focus on socking it to the people that already violate the law and not cross lines that eliminate our freedoms.

Posted by: Dave | September 25, 2008 3:06 PM

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