An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnosis-like “daze’’ and nodded at the controls just before the wreck, and by the time he caught himself it was too late, people representing him said Tuesday.
Attorney Jeffrey Chartier accompanied engineer William Rockefeller to his interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators and described the account Rockefeller gave. Chartier said the engineer experienced a nod or “a daze,’’ almost like road fatigue or the phenomenon sometimes called highway hypnosis. He couldn’t say how long it lasted.
What Rockefeller remembers is “operating the train, coming to a section where the track was still clear — then, all of a sudden, feeling something was wrong and hitting the brakes,’’ Chartier said.
“... He felt something was not right, and he hit the brakes.’’
He called Rockefeller “a guy with a stellar record who, I believe, did nothing wrong.’’ “You’ve got a good guy and an accident,’’ he said. “... A terrible accident is what it is.’’
Rockefeller “basically nodded,’’ said Anthony Bottalico, leader of the rail employees union, relating what he said the engineer told him.