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The Feds release some test results in train crash probe

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Brian Vander Brug/ Los Angeles Times

A rail worker helps test the equipment at the site of that tragic train collision.

Investigators are back on the scene of that horrific train crash in Chatsworth today looking for answers and running more tests. Meanwhile, Metrolink riders boarded buses again this morning to get around the crash site.

During a news conference last night, National Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Kitty Higgins spoke about the results of some of the tests done by investigators. Higgins said that those tests have determined there was no obstruction to the Metrolink engineer’s sight and that all the signals were  “…operating today as they’re supposed to.”

Higgins says the NTSB has subpoenaed the cell phone records of the engineer to check out reports that Robert Sanchez might have been text messaging right before the head-on collision on Friday. Sanchez was killed in the crash. Higgins says an autopsy has been completed, but it will be weeks before the results are known.

The conductor, Bob Hildebrand, survived the accident and remains in the hospital today. Higgins says they haven’t been able to interview Hildebrand, but plan to do so soon.

When a reporter asked how the NTSB felt about a new high-tech system, Positive Train Control, that would override any mistakes by the engineer, Higgins said. “… we are on record in support of that technology. We are hoping action will be taken before too long.”

Meanwhile, the family of a 19-year-old Aida Magdaleno, who was killed in the deadly crash, held a news conference yesterday to say it plans to file a claim against the Metrolink — the first step to filing a lawsuit.

The death toll stands at 25.  More than 130 injured. A couple dozen of those victims remain hospitalized.

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