TIME Transportation

Chicago Train Operator Admits She Fell Asleep Before Crash

A handout photo shows a derailed commuter train resting on an escalator at O'Hare international airport in Chicago
A derailed commuter train is shown resting on an escalator at O'Hare international airport in Chicago March 24, 2014. NBC Chicago/Reuters

The rail operator steering the commuter train that derailed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Monday, injuring more than 30 people and causing about $6 million in damages, admits she had fallen asleep at the controls before the 3 a.m. accident

The woman operating the Chicago commuter train that derailed and injured more than 30 people on Monday morning has admitted she fell asleep before the early accident and only woke up on impact, investigators said Wednesday.

“She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station,” Ted Turpin, a National Transportation Safety Board’s investigator, said during a briefing Wednesday, the Associated Press reports. “She did not awake until the train hit.”

The woman had only been a Chicago Transit Authority operator for two months before the crash, in which the train went airborne and hit an escalator at O’Hare International Airport, injuring at least 32 people and causing about $6 million worth of damage. Turpin said the operator, who name hasn’t been released, is cooperating with authorities and that Monday’s incident was not the first time she had fallen asleep on the job. She dozed off at the helm in February and caused a train to partially miss its stop, Turpin said.

Turpin added that her recent schedule was erratic and she would often fill in for colleagues. “Human factors” contribute to about 40 percent of train crashes, the Federal Railroad Administration estimated as recently as March 10, and fatigue often plays a role. The NTSB is investigating her training, work schedule and whether she has any prior infractions.

[AP]

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