Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Engineer texted seconds before crash

Associated Press updated 5:52 p.m. ET, Wed., Oct. 1, 2008

LOS ANGELES - A Metrolink engineer sent a cell phone text message 22 seconds before his commuter train crashed head-on into a freight train last month, killing 25 people, federal investigators said Wednesday.

Cell phone records of engineer Robert Sanchez, who was among the dead, show he sent a message after receiving one about a minute and 20 seconds before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a press release.

Investigators are looking into why Sanchez ran through a red signal and collided with a Union Pacific train Sept. 12 in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. It was the nation's deadliest rail crash since 1993.

Sanchez sent his last text message at 4:22:01 p.m. According to the freight train's onboard recorder, the accident occurred at 4:22:23 p.m.

Records obtained from Sanchez's cell phone provider also showed that he sent 24 text messages and received 21 messages over a two-hour period during his morning shift. During his afternoon shift, he received seven and sent five messages.

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