Federal investigators have revealed some disturbing details in connection with the operator of a California commuter train who ignored a red light, resulting in a head-on collision with a freight train that killed 25 people and injured 135 others.
Among the findings shared at a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing into the Sept. 25, 2008 crash in Chatsworth, CA, was a text message in which Metrolink train engineer Robert Sanchez had promised a teenager that he could operate a train that evening.
Investigator Wayne Workman told the hearing that Sanchez’s text message to the teenager read: “I’m going to do all the radio talking. You’re going to run the locomotive and I’m going to tell you how to do it.”
Workman told the hearing that Sanchez had sent or received dozens of text messages while on shift on the day of the crash, including one he sent 22 seconds before the trains collided. Sanchez was among those killed in the collision.
The NTSB also heard that earlier text messages sent by Sanchez revealed that other unauthorized persons had been allowed to sit in the locomotive’s cab three days before the collision. One of those persons had sat at the controls while the train was in motion.