Spain investigators: Train conductor was on phone, going 95 mph

Spain investigators: Train conductor was on phone, going 95 mph

Spain investigators: Train conductor was on phone, going 95 mph

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by Associated Press

KMOV.com

Posted on July 30, 2013 at 12:18 PM

MADRID -- Two "black box" data recorders show that a train driver was on the phone and traveling at 95 mph, almost twice the speed limit, when the vehicle derailed last week, a Spanish court investigating the crash said in preliminary findings Tuesday.

A Houston woman was among 79 people killed in the crash.

The train had been going as fast as 119 mph shortly before the derailment, and the driver activated the brakes "seconds before the crash," according to a written statement from the court in Santiago de Compostela, which is near where the disaster happened. The speed limit on the section of track was 80-kph.

It was the country’s worst rail accident in decades.

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was talking on the phone to an official of national rail company Renfe when the crash happened and apparently was consulting a paper document at the time, the statement said. Garzon was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide.

Investigators from the Santiago de Compostela court, forensic police experts, the Ministry of Transport and Renfe examined the contents of the two black boxes recovered from the wrecked train. The investigation is ongoing.

The train was carrying 218 passengers when it hurtled off the tracks last Wednesday evening. It slammed into a concrete wall, with some of the cars catching fire. The Spanish rail agency has said the brakes should have been applied four kilometers (2.5 miles) before the train hit the curve.

Dozens of passengers are still being treated for injuries.

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