NTSB: Engineer in deadly DuPont derailment said he misjudged his - KPTV - FOX 12

NTSB: Engineer in deadly DuPont derailment said he misjudged his location

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Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board have released an update on their investigation into the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train near DuPont, Washington, last month.

Investigators have now interviewed the engineer and the qualifying conductor of the passenger train, both of whom suffered serious injuries in the crash.

Those injuries prevented the two from being interviewed until last week. Three people died in the derailment and dozens more were hurt.

The engineer on the train told investigators that in the five weeks ahead of the crash on December 18, 2017, he had traveled on the section of track where the derailment occurred seven to 10 times as an observer and operated a train on the route 3 times, twice headed north and once headed south.

MORE: NTSB releases preliminary report in DuPont derailment

The 14-year Amtrak veteran said he recalled the train was traveling at 79 mph as it passed milepost 15.5 and that he knew the 30 mph speed restriction was coming ahead at milepost 19.8, adding that he planned to begin applying the brakes a mile before the slower curve.

He told the investigators he recalled seeing mileposts 16 and 17 but did not remember seeing the sign for milepost 18. He said he also did not see the sign noting the upcoming slower 30 mph area, which was posted two miles ahead of the curve.

The engineer did say he saw the signal at milepost 19.8 but mistook it for a different signal north of the curve.

He then said he began applying the brakes when he saw the 30 mph sign at the beginning of the curve, seconds before the train went off the rails on the curve.

MORE: Lawsuits filed in deadly Washington train derailment

The qualifying conductor told investigators he had spent most of the trip reviewing paperwork to help learn the territory and only had minimal conversations with the engineer.

He said he was looking down at track bulletins when he heard the engineer say something, then moments later he said he looked up and sensed the train was “airborne.”

The 48-year-old man told the NTSB that he had never worked with the engineer before that day but that the engineer appeared alert during a morning briefing and while operating the train.

The engineer said that he did not feel that having the qualifying conductor on board caused any distractions and said that he would not have gotten “behind the throttle” of the train if he had concerns about his own readiness.

NTSB officials said they are continuing to interview more people about the derailment, adding that they are also reviewing video and data recorder information from the derailment.

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