A Port of Los Angeles locomotive engineer has admitted trying to crash a train into a hospital ship, federal prosecutors say. According to a court affidavit, 44-year-old Eduardo Moreno told investigators that he intentionally derailed the train at full speed on Tuesday because he thought the USNS Mercy might be there as part of a government takeover, not to help with the coronavirus crisis, ABC reports. He said he wanted to "wake people up" and knew the crash would attract media attention. Prosecutors say the train smashed through several barriers before coming to a halt around 250 yards from the Mercy. Authorities say there were no injuries and the ship wasn't damaged, but the derailment caused a substantial fuel leak.
"You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will," Moreno told investigators, per the Los Angeles Times. The Mercy, which has around 800 staffers and 1,000 hospital beds, is docked in Los Angeles to treat non-coronavirus patients, freeing up space in area hospitals. An FBI affidavit states that Moreno told agents "he thought that the USNS Mercy was suspicious and did not believe 'the ship is what they say it's for.'" He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years under a federal train-wrecking statute, NBC reports. (Read more derailment stories.)