YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A union official said the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train derailed this past weekend “nodded off” at the controls and “zoned out” before the accident, while an attorney said the engineer went into a “daze.”
It remains unknown specifically what engineer William Rockefeller said to investigators when he was interviewed on Tuesday evening. But the attorney for Rockefeller said the engineer experienced a a “daze” at the controls before the train went off the track.
Attorney Jeffrey Chartier accompanied Rockefeller to his interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators and described the account Rockefeller gave Tuesday.
He said Rockefeller’s daze was “almost like road fatigue” or the phenomenon sometimes called highway hypnosis.
Rockefeller also told first responders he began “thinking about nothing in particular” before the derailment, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, union chief Anthony Bottalico said Rockefeller told him the same thing – that he momentarily lost awareness, and by the time he recovered, it was too late.
“I just know it was a lapse, and that was a nod, or how ever they want to couch it, how ever it’ll be explained today, and it was a mistake that any of us could make,” Bottalico said. “And he caught that mistake too late.”
He earlier compared Rockefeller’s situation to spacing out on the road.
“He zoned out. He had one of those where, ‘Whoa,’ you know, like you drive your car,” said Bottalico, chief of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees.