O'Hare train operator in crash fell asleep at controls before, NTSB investigators say

By Daniel S Levine,

The National Transportation Safety Board has finished its three-day investigation into the train derailment at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago Monday morning. Investigators found that the operator dozed off and had done so before early last month. However, there was also a mechanical error that caused the emergency brakes not to work.

The derailment left over 30 passengers injured. The Blue Line Chicago Transit Authority train actually jumped onto the sidewalk and hit the escalator before stopping.

According to CNN, lead investigator Ted Turpin said that the operator was awoken just as the train began to derail. He did say that the emergency breaks should have kicked in to stop the eight-car train, though.

Turpin interviewed the operator, who did admit that she dozed off before, reports The Chicago Tribune. “She did admit she dozed off prior to (the train) entering the station. She did not awake again until the train hit,” Tupin said.

The CTA said that it would have imposed a harsher punishment if they knew about the earlier incident, which happened on Feb. 1. She was only given a written warning before and is currently on injury leave.

That does contradict Turpin’s investigation. “The CTA became aware of that (incident) almost immediately and her supervisor admonished her and had a discussion with her,” he said in the report.

As for the mechanical error, Turpin said that the train did pass a trip arm that should have set off the emergency brakes. Investigators are still looking into how that happened.



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