Dispatcher Accused of Playing Games on Phone Before Deadly Train Crash

11 were killed in Germany collision
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2016 3:40 PM CDT
This Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 file photo shows an aerial view of rescue teams at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

(Newser) – The rail dispatcher in charge of two trains that collided in Germany in February, killing 11, was playing a game on his phone just before the crash, authorities say. The man, whose name is not being released but who is a 39-year-old with years of experience, has been arrested on suspicion of negligent homicide, the Wall Street Journal reports. The collision near Munich Feb. 9 was one of the worst rail accidents in Germany's recent history, and no technical problems have been found to have contributed, the AP reports.

"Due to the close timing it must be assumed that the accused was distracted from controlling the cross-traffic of the trains," prosecutors say in a statement, adding that the dispatcher had been actively playing the cellphone game for "an extended period of time" until shortly before the collision. He likely gave the trains the incorrect signals, then pressed the wrong combination of buttons while trying to issue an emergency call, meaning the train drivers probably never heard it. (Read more train accident stories.)

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