Old 09-14-2008, 04:10 AM   #1
stevenmwelch
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Default Railfan Texting Engineer for Metrolink/UP Head-On Collision

Here is the complete text from the CBS2 web site:

[Note: Until this is confirmed by the NTSB, please consider that this may be a hoax. Also wait until the accident is re-created at the exact same time. The angle of the sun into that locomotive cab could be a very critical factor.]



"Metrolink officials Saturday put the blame squarely on the engineer of the train for the deadly crash that has claimed at least 25 lives. They say he ran a red light.

But a group of local teens, train enthusiasts, who know the engineer well doubt that he was to blame.

They called their friend professional and caring and said he helped them learn about trains and being an engineer. To a man, they said he would "never" have been reckless or unprofessional or run a red light.

But one minute before the deadliest crash in Metrolink history, one teen -- Nick Williams -- said he received a text message on his cell phone from the engineer, whom the teens identified as Robert Sanchez.

Williams' received text was brief, "Just two lines", reported KCAL 9 and CBS 2 reporter Kristine Lazar, exclusively.

Williams told Lazar that Sanchez sent him a text message at 4:22, about a minute before the crash. "I just replied back 'Good deal,' and I never got a response back."

The teens posted a tribute to their friend on YouTube.

Investigators insist the engineer ran a red light. Another one of the teens, Evan Morrison, told Lazar that Sanchez "wasnt the kind of person that would run a signal or go through something like that."

None of them believe he was at fault.

Saturday, Sanchez's teen friends all went to the crash site. Mark Speer, choking back tears said, "this is absolutely devastating."

Denise Tyrell, a spokesperson for Metrolink commented on the report that Sanchez might have been texting immediately before the crash.

She said, "That would be to me unbelievable. I can't imagine a scenario where a Metrolink engineer would be texting someone while driving a train."
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Old 09-14-2008, 04:22 AM   #2
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Those kids are complete idiots...
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Old 09-14-2008, 04:57 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Those kids are complete idiots...

Finally something I can agree with you on...



Actually, just one idiot punk teenager... That Nick Williams work of art...
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Old 09-14-2008, 06:47 AM   #4
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I donít know how these kids can comment on something they werenít a witness to, or could see a trackside signal to determine if it was a clear signal. It also might be questionable as to whether the television station could release the name of the engineer if the next of kin hadnít been notified.

The Metrolink spokeswoman said "I can't believe someone could be texting while driving a train." I cant believe it either because you cant drive a train.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenmwelch
She said, "That would be to me unbelievable. I can't imagine a scenario where a Metrolink engineer would be texting someone while driving a train."
Why? Wasn't the engineer...(gasp!)...HUMAN? "She" needs to be a little more creative with her imagination.

If in fact the engineer was distracted by a text message and missed the signal, he was 100% at fault. It's irrelevant where the text message came from. He made the choice to be distracted by it.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Why? Wasn't the engineer...(gasp!)...HUMAN? "She" needs to be a little more creative with her imagination.

If in fact the engineer was distracted by a text message and missed the signal, he was 100% at fault. It's irrelevant where the text message came from. He made the choice to be distracted by it.
Yes, but was he so distracted that he missed the approach signal as well? Also, on most railroads, engineers are required to announce the signal indications with the conductors acknowledging them...I don't know if it's this way on Metrolink or not though. He may simply have not been paying attention and, oh crap, the stop signal is right here and I'm still doing 60! There's also been documented cases where the crew "forgets" what the last signal was and just assumes it was clear...any way about it, we won't know until the official report comes out.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAMR159
Yes, but was he so distracted that he missed the approach signal as well?
Who knows. I'm just saying that if he was distracted by his cell phone, then he was 100% at fault. This accident has nothing to do with the railfan (or anyone else for that matter) who supposedly texted the engineer. Unless, of course, said railfan held a gun against the engineer's head, forcing him to read the text thus missing the signal.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:43 PM   #8
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If the engineer was distracted, the conductor still should have seen the signal and corrected the engineer. So, there is no way the engineer could be 100% at fault here. As has been said, let's wait for the report. With a crash of this magnitude, there's going to be a lot of CYA comments (Cover Your Ass) and wild media speculation. Kind of like an election...
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:43 AM   #9
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1). How long doesnt it take to send a text messege of that size?..20 seconds maybe?Unless he was on a tight curve surrounded by trees or he was traveling at a fairly high speed(maybe a combo of both?) the possibility of him missing the signal before or after he had texted isnt very great.

2). What was the conductor doing? As far as I remember by rule the conductor is supposed to verbally state the color of the signal even if the engineer can visually see it. I cant imagine why both crew members werent paying attention.

3). Why wouldnt they know that signal was coming when they both have most likely traveled both ways on that line many times.........and not to mention the signal before that was probably yellow?!!! Were they not paying attention to that one either? If they were then they should have known the next signal had to be red....or atleast a diverging route?
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Old 09-15-2008, 02:58 AM   #10
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Since Metrolink runs with one man in the cab, the conductor can't see the signal indication. Most engineers here on the West Coast don't call out advanced approach either.

Here's what I think happened:

Advanced Approach, he saw it, never told the conductor (so conductor still thinks he's on a clear)

Approach, missed it while reading the text message (conductor doesn't know still)

Red, missed it, while sending the text message (and the conductor still doesn't know)
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:32 PM   #11
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I guess I've never been able to understand the text messaging phenomenon. Sending such messages takes more keystrokes and more concentration than dialing the recipient's number and leaving a voice message. After all, how many of us can type faster than we can talk? Not only that, but some cell phone companies charge extra for text messages.

Frankly, I found texting so annoying, I called my cell phone company and blocked the feature from my phone.

WRT to this accident, I wonder if the RR Company, the Governor and all of the others who have been so quick to place blame have already tested the signals and all of the controls etc on the crashed trains and can honestly say they've covered all of the bases. That's why we have the NTSB. Their job is to cover all of those bases and do detailed analysis. History tells us they are quite good at it. I think the politicians and corporate brass should let them do their jobs.

Just my $.02.
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Old 09-15-2008, 01:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slopes09
If the engineer was distracted, the conductor still should have seen the signal and corrected the engineer. So, there is no way the engineer could be 100% at fault here.
Ok, let me rephrase that then. Considering all things were working properly (signal, equipment, etc), and the crash was the result of being distracted, then the person/people who allowed him/herself/themselves to be distracted is/are 100% at fault.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM
I guess I've never been able to understand the text messaging phenomenon. Sending such messages takes more keystrokes and more concentration than dialing the recipient's number and leaving a voice message. After all, how many of us can type faster than we can talk? Not only that, but some cell phone companies charge extra for text messages.
Because texting is more convenient than making a call and actually having to carrying on a conversation with someone? At least that's how I see it. I'm not much of a phone talker, especially with my gf, so I (and she) find it a lot easier to just send a simple text if I have something quick to say instead of stopping to talk on the phone when there's really nothing else to say. Neither one of us are gabbers, so texting is a nice way to just say something simple to each other throughout the day.

Last edited by JimThias; 09-15-2008 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 09-15-2008, 08:13 PM   #13
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I really dont think it would be the railfans fault. The engineer should have just ignored the text. I dont answer my person phone or respond to texts when im on my tour of duty unless its an emergency or work related. The fact that the engineer was negligent like that shows no fault to the kids texting him. I am still confused of how the engineer missed 2 signals and missed dispatches calls over the radio after being on that route for a long time. I really just baffles me
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drewster
I really dont think it would be the railfans fault. The engineer should have just ignored the text. I dont answer my person phone or respond to texts when im on my tour of duty unless its an emergency or work related. The fact that the engineer was negligent like that shows no fault to the kids texting him. I am still confused of how the engineer missed 2 signals and missed dispatches calls over the radio after being on that route for a long time. I really just baffles me

I explained it out Drew, missed the approach when reading the text and missed the red when replying. The red signal and the point of collision was just over 600 feet. Not much time to react, probably couldn't stop a 5-car Metrolink from 40MPH in 600 feet.

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Old 09-16-2008, 04:55 AM   #15
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thats just your idea of what happened. Who knows what really happened, but i still can't see how reading a text could have had him miss 2 signals. You can see them for miles, i dont think it changed within the small amount of time he read it, it doesnt take long to read a text. I just don't see how that small amount of time could have been the whole distracted, something else had to of been accountable
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Old 09-16-2008, 05:46 AM   #16
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Maybe the signal was black, not operational. Eh, I don't like not operational, I like "not working" better. Like whoever above said, the NTSB will review this. I'm not sure the policy of "black signals", on any class 1's, or any class. I'm not THAT knowledgable about signals. Not too long ago I was just monitoring the CSX road channel for the Keystone Sub, and they called, "Engine-Whatever, Q-Whatever, west on two approach West Newton" and then not too long after "Engine-Whatever, Q-Whatever, black signal Graystown". The dispatch contacted the manifest but still went on, didn't stop at the non-working signal. Either nothing else was on their line or there was one coming at them but on the opposite main 1. I turned the scanner off and ate dinner, so I don't know. I guess what I'm saying is, the signal possibly was black, whether he called it or not maybe dispatch missed it also. Just another scenerio NTSB is going to have to look into.

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Old 09-16-2008, 05:52 AM   #17
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All dark signals are to be taken as stop and are to be reported. But if it was dark the engineer should have noticed it, ecspecially after seeing signals for that many years on the Railroad. Kind of like driving down the street you've Always driven down, i'm sure you would notice something was odd
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Old 09-16-2008, 06:01 AM   #18
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True.


What I'm driving at is, I just hope, and do NOT take hope out of it's context as I hoped this happened, I hope that this cotastrophe happened because of malfunction of railroad equipment such as a signal, switch, brakes. It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that this horrible event happened over something so mundane and so petty as a text message. I hope to the Lord above, who I pray that the individuals whose lives were taken are basking in his greatness, that this is not the case.


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Old 09-16-2008, 05:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drewster
thats just your idea of what happened. Who knows what really happened, but i still can't see how reading a text could have had him miss 2 signals. You can see them for miles, i dont think it changed within the small amount of time he read it, it doesnt take long to read a text. I just don't see how that small amount of time could have been the whole distracted, something else had to of been accountable

Chatworth is a very rocky, cliffy area, with lots of tight slow curves... I know of spots out in my area (your old area) that you only have a small time to check the signal. Niles Junction, for example, is very hard to see when you're right on it, you can only see the indication from a distance.
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Old 09-16-2008, 07:04 PM   #20
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I have not heard anything about the crew on the freight train. How badly were they injured? Or were they among the fatalities? Such a horrible thing to happen to them and those on the commutter train.


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Old 09-16-2008, 11:07 PM   #21
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I was wondering the same thing, Joe. I searched UP's website, but couldn't find any "In memory of..." links which might be a good sign...
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Old 09-16-2008, 11:35 PM   #22
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I don't have a good memory, but I believe they lost their lives as well.
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Old 09-17-2008, 12:30 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Muller
I don't have a good memory, but I believe they lost their lives as well.
All 3 members of the UP crew survived. One is hospitalized (engineer), while the conductor and switch/brakeman are at home with their families.

Metrolink conductor suffered two broken legs.
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:03 AM   #24
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Aren't the signal comparable to stoplights? The signals can be seen for quite a ways can't they? I am sure he had plenty of time to look and see a signal and also text. Doesn't the conductor have a brake that he can also activate if he saw the red signal?
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:36 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenmwelch
All 3 members of the UP crew survived. One is hospitalized (engineer), while the conductor and switch/brakeman are at home with their families.
For once, I'm glad I was wrong!
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