Thursday November 26th, 2015 8:01PM

Spain investigators: Train driver was on phone

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
MADRID - The driver of the train that derailed and killed 79 people in Spain was on the phone and traveling at 95 mph (153 kph) - almost twice the speed limit - when the crash happened last week, according to a preliminary investigation released Tuesday.

The train had been going as fast as 119 mph (192 kph) shortly before the derailment, and the driver activated the brakes "seconds before the crash," according to a written statement from the court in Santiago de Compostela, whose investigators gleaned the information from two "black box" data recorders recovered from the train.

The speed limit on the section of track was 50 mph (80 kph).

The crash occurred near Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, and was the country's worst rail accident in decades. Some 66 people are still hospitalized for injuries, 15 of whom are in critical condition.

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was talking on the phone to an official of national rail company Renfe when the crash happened and apparently was consulting a paper document at the time, the statement said. Garzon was provisionally charged Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide.

The driver received a call on his work phone in the cabin, not his personal cellphone, to tell him what approach to take toward his final destination. The Renfe employee on the telephone "appears to be a controller," the statement said.

"From the contents of the conversation and from the background noise it seems that the driver (was) consulting a plan or similar paper document," the statement said.

Investigators from the Santiago de Compostela court, forensic police experts, the Ministry of Transport and Renfe examined the contents of the two black boxes recovered from the lead and rear cars of the train.

The investigation is ongoing. The next steps include measuring the wheels on the cars and examining the locomotive, the statement said without providing an explanation for those checks. Sniffer dogs will also be used to search for human remains in the wreckage, it said.

The train was carrying 218 passengers when it hurtled off the tracks last Wednesday evening. It slammed into a concrete wall, and some of the cars caught fire. The Spanish rail agency has said the brakes should have been applied four kilometers (2.5 miles) before the train hit the curve.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
6:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 22 hours ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 5 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )