Metro-North Crew Interviewed, Drug-Tested After Deadly Derailment

NTSB spokesman releases the latest details of the investigation into the passenger train accident.
3:00 | 12/03/13

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Transcript for Metro-North Crew Interviewed, Drug-Tested After Deadly Derailment
This is a special room. I'm Democrats are New York with a CBC news digital special report a little more than two days have passed since a metro north commuter train derailed just north of New York City. Killing four people. And injuring at least sixteen more -- new details about the train operator and his State's in the moments before the deadly crash. ABC's -- costar is joining us now with the latest on this investigation. -- -- sources tell ABC news the train's operator told investigators he cannot remember the moment as he was approaching that sharp curve that ultimately led to the crash suggesting human error may have caused this deadly derailment. A twenty year veteran of the railroad train engineer William Rockefeller junior told NTSB investigators. He's unsure why he didn't applied the brakes while heading into a sharp turn. Officials tell ABC news there's a possibility. Rockefeller may have zoned out or even fallen asleep. New York's governor Andrew Cuomo said this to a local public radio station. There was no -- here know track problem. And this you know we're very serious situation the operator has rights. But that all of course all sorts of liability questions. But I still don't know we got a -- became okay. Federal investigators say the train was traveling 82 miles per hour in a -- stretch of track zoned for authority. The brakes weren't applied until seconds before the train came to a stop. We want to make sure that you -- writers are -- and this operator it's not going to be operating a -- anytime soon that a commercial use. Overnight a vigil at the crash site for the four killed in the -- James Ferrari heading to work as a building supervisor. -- took on a nurse heading home from the night shift Donna Smith on her way to see her sister's choral performance. And James lawful and NBC technician traveling to Rockefeller Center to test the Christmas tree. Just the best father I could ever -- board -- is supportive. The train engineers. -- drug and alcohol test results are not yet available investigators stand will be taking a closer look at his cell -- to. All right ABC's mad because -- with that Matt thank you for that I wanna go -- to Yonkers we're just miles we're from the crash site. The NTSB is briefing the latest on the investigation. Let's listen nesting. And to date no anomalies have been found. The operations group continued invented interviewing the members of the crew today. Including the engineer -- interview is currently under way. In addition they interviewed first responders to the accident -- As required by federal regulation. Following the accident each member of the crew was drug and alcohol testing. Results from the alcohol breath tests were all negative. Results of the other tests are still pending. With the regard to the engineer he has worked for metro north for fifteen years. And has been an engineer for ten of those years. This was his regularly scheduled route. Making two round trips each day. With a typical day lasted approximately nine hours. -- engineer have been running this particular route full time since November 17. This was the second day of a five day work week. On the day of the accident he reported to work at 504 a was scheduled to leave at 5:54. AM. And left on time. Now many view of asked about whether or not positive train control. Would have prevented this accident. But I can say is that for more than twenty years the NTSB has recommended the implementation of PTC technology. Broadly speaking. We know that human there can be eradicated. And that PTC is capable of supplementing the human operation. These systems provide a safety redundancy by slowing or stopping a trend is not being operated in accordance with signals. Speed limits or other operating rules. BTC is proven technology that can prevent train to train collisions. Over speed derailment. And incursions into work zones. Since this is a derailment. Involving a high speed train it's possible that PTC could have prevented it. Well this is our last on -- media briefing -- work on this investigation is far from complete. Investigators will continue interviewing the crew and employees of metro north's. And we'll interview passengers on the train and additional first responders as necessary. They will also complete some testing in the signal system. And documentation and inspection of the rail cars and locomotives. I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to all the responders and officials from state and local New York government. At every turn we've they've made our jobs easier and we really appreciate. Their support. Finally before take some questions I would like to set some ground rules. If you have a question please raise your hand. And I'll call on you. I -- make sure that as many viewed as possible have a chance to ask the question. I'd also ask that you identify yourself and year of -- and you have to take your questions. Yes. Comment area that's been. Our. That man that man. That's correct yes you know adamant that train hadn't indignant. -- The American. -- into effect. With the -- break. What I happen. We don't know what that sequence was. At this point. It's too early -- to comment on them. But the yes there was a dead man's -- The question. Can you tell us -- -- put you know how congress confusion and minutes and seconds. -- from the port. That you either. Don't know. -- So the question is what was the driver's condition -- seconds before the crash. The answer that is we don't know at this moment the interview from was being conducted this afternoon. Perhaps is finished by now but as I mentioned earlier. We don't release the the specifics of the interviews and Paul all of the interviews are. Conducted. Movie -- the previous evening. Couldn't tell us. -- take to monitor the press conference but it -- bring back in Mac -- are standing by with some of the news conference as well some other developments that occur throughout the day today -- when in fact do we expect to get those results of the drug and alcohol tests. Well -- usually takes a few days but in this case it seems like it's been happening pretty rapidly we're just listening to doctor Earl Duaner. He's a board member with the NTSB speaking right now. He was saying that in fact it appears there was no drug -- alcohol signs in the blood of the train engineer that would be. William Rockefeller junior he's a twenty year veteran. A metro north he has been. Writing this route doctor -- said for about a year now this was his second day. -- five work days. And doctor -- was explaining in his press conference that they've tested -- -- mechanical and mechanical issues problems with the breaks it doesn't appear. There were any so right now all signs are pointing towards human error although the NTSB is stopping short of saying that exactly in what about the status then of the operator. Well old right now he has been released from the hospital we don't know whether he's at home with his family or not New York State Police are guarding his home. His family told the media last night they had no intention of speaking. Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an impromptu interview this afternoon with public radio station here in New York WNYC. He says that this operator will not be driving any trains anytime soon of course. We can assume that until this investigation is complete he will not be back on the job. The biggest development coming up from this news conference is that it appears from what the NTSB has gathered at this point. That there are no mechanical anomalies in the work that they have done so far is it then further and pinpointing into the possibility of humor and -- -- Daniel sources are telling ABC news is that when the train's operator was speaking to investigators. He was saying he just doesn't remember going into that curve which is a very very dangerous curve. And so officials are saying it's possible. He may have fallen asleep it's possible he zoned out the NTSB isn't saying that exactly but if there are no mechanical issues that everything was functioning. This train made nine stops prior to crashing the brakes worked fine during those nine stops -- you can imagine. The only thing left to deduce is that human error is to blame although investigators haven't officially made that clear although sources are telling ABC news that is the case. ABC's and -- are following the investigation Matt thank you for that and of course we do have a complete write up right here on For non Dan Cutler -- New York with the CBC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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