Confirmation comes this afternoon that a Metrolink train engineer in California sent text messges moments before the September 12th crash into an oncoming freight train that killed 25.
The National Transportation Safety Board confirms, in a written statement, that engineer Robert M. Sanchez sent the message at 4:22 p.m.
22 seconds later he hit a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth. Sanchez sent a total of 29 text messages while on duty that day.
Sanchez, who also died in the crash, allegedly ran through a red signal instead of stopping. The southbound Union Pacific freight train was trying to pull into a siding to let the commuter train pass. The commuter then went onto tracks that had been closed to guide the freight train, breaking a switching mechanism at 42 mph.
IB member Paul Kiesel, of Kiesel, Boucher, Larson LLP filed the first lawsuit against Metrolink on behalf of the parents of Aida Magdaleno. The California State University, Northridge 19-year-old sophomore was going to school to become a social worker.
Kiesel tells IB News, “This is strong evidence of a compelling lapse of human judgment and attention.”
Last week California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law legislation that bans texting while driving. California joins Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington - all states that ban text messaging while driving. The law goes into effect January 1.
If you are driving in the state and caught using a cell phone to write, read, or send a message, you face a $20 ticket the first time. Subsequent offenses will yield a $50 ticket. Critics say the fine is too small to be effective.
California’s Public Utilities Commission also voted to impose a texting ban on all train engineers, conductors and brakemen while on duty.
California also bans the use of a cell phone while driving unless the vehicle operator is using a hands-free device. #