NTSB Kicks Loose-Lipped Union Out of Train Inquiry

Union lawyer confirmed report that driver was in a 'daze'

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 4, 2013 8:58 AM CST

(Newser) – The National Transportation Safety Board has kicked the Association of Commuter Rail Employees out of its investigation of the Bronx train derailment, after a union lawyer said a little too much about it. Engineer William Rockefeller "basically nodded" at the controls, falling into "a daze," union general chairman Anthony Bottalico told the AP yesterday, after accompanying Rockefeller to his interview with the NTSB. He likened it to "what we all have when we drive a car … you sometimes have a momentary nod."

Those comments—which seemed to validate earlier reports that Rockefeller was somehow out of it—violated the NTSB's rules on public statements, Politico reports. "While we value the technical expertise that groups like ACRE can provide … it is counterproductive when an organization breaches the party agreement," the board explained. Meanwhile, the head of the Federal Railroad Administration sent a letter to the head of New York's transit authority noting that the Bronx crash was the fourth "serious accident" involving a Metro-North train in the past seven months, which he deemed "simply unacceptable," CNN reports. He called for immediate improvements, including a protocol for reporting close calls.

A train passes by the scene of repair efforts at the site of a train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York, Dec. 3, 2013.
A train passes by the scene of repair efforts at the site of a train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York, Dec. 3, 2013.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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