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NTSB: Train operator asleep before Chicago crash

  • Chicago-Train-Derailment-21

    A Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station after it derailed early Monday morning.

    NBC Chicago/Kenneth Webster

  • Chicago-Train-Derailment-22

    Signs alert travelers to the closing of the Blue Line train station Tuesday, March 25, 2015, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago after Monday's crash of a commuter train. National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said Tuesday, that a preliminary review of derailment showed that it was traveling at 25 mph, the correct speed, as it entered the station. Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, added that an automatic emergency braking system was activated on the tracks, but that it failed it stop the train as it headed for the platform. More than 30 people were injured in the crash. (AP Photo/Sun-Times Media, Brian Jackson) MANDATORY CREDIT, MAGS OUT, NO SALES

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chicago-Train-Derailment-21

A Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station after it derailed early Monday morning.

NBC Chicago/Kenneth Webster Enlarge

CHICAGO — The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O’Hare International Airport admitted she “dozed off” before the accident, waking only when the train jumped off the tracks and climbed an escalator, a federal official said today.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said the woman had been working as an operator for about two months and acknowledged she’d previously fallen asleep on the job in February, when her train partially missed a station.

“She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station,” he said during a briefing today. “She did not awake until the train hit.”

He said the woman, who was cooperating with the investigation, often worked an erratic schedule, filling in for other Chicago Transit Authority employees.

“Her hours would vary every day,” he said.

Turpin said the NTSB is investigating the woman’s training, scheduling and disciplinary history.

“The CTA became aware of that (February incident) almost immediately and a supervisor admonished her and had a discussion with her,” he said.

More than 30 people were hurt during the crash, which occurred around 3 a.m., but none of the injuries were serious.

Turpin said the crash caused about $6 million worth of damage.

Meanwhile today, crews were cutting apart the lead car of the eight-car train that was damaged during the crash, sending sparks into the air at typically busy station that remains closed.

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