Paralyzed Father of Two Forgives Train Engineer Who Fell Asleep at Controls
A 39-year-old mechanic and father of two who was paralyzed in a December train crash in New York City, has forgiven the engineer of the train who fell asleep at the controls, according to the New York Daily News.
Samuel Rivera, a Metro North mechanic, was traveling into New York City with his fourteen year old son when the Metro North train in which they were passengers flew off the tracks trying to negotiate a sharp 30 mph curve at over 80 mph. Seven train cars derailed in the early morning wreck, leaving four dead and sixty seven injured, including eleven who were left in critical condition.
Mr. Rivera, who has a 99% probability of never walking again, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the operator of the Metro-North train. Mr. Rivera’s attorney said, “It’s an extraordinary sum of money, but Sam’s expenses are extraordinary and his expenses will be extraordinary”.
Mr. Rivera is being transferred to a nursing home while renovations to his house are being completed. Metro-North has authorized a ground floor addition to the Rivera home and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. His motorized wheelchair costs $39,000 and will need to be replaced every five years.
Wrongful death & personal injury lawsuits filed against MTA
The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), in documents released this past week, concluded that veteran Metro-North engineer, William Rockefeller, suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea and likely fell asleep just before the accident. Examining doctors found that he suffered up to 64.7 sleep arousals per hour of sleep. In addition to the sleep apnea, the engineer had recently been switched from the late night shift to the early morning shift, exaggerating the sleep apnea problem.
The NTSB also released a preliminary report on a March 24 commuter train derailment in Chicago causing numerous injuries. According to the NTSB report, the train operator admitted to falling asleep as her train entered the station. She missed the signal to stop the train and awoke too late. The train slammed into the station and drove partly up an escalator. “The operator had worked nearly 60 hours over the previous 7 days; she was working her third consecutive night shift,” the report indicates. Damages from that crash were estimated at $9.1 million.
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- NY TIMES, Train Engineer in Fatal Derailment Said to Have Sleep Apnea, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/07/nyregion/train-engineer-in-fatal-derailment-is-said-to-have-sleep-apnea.html
- CNN.COM, Metro-North Train in Fatal Crash Equipped with Safety Systems, http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/04/us/new-york-train-crash/