According to the results of the investigation, the driver of a Spanish train that crashed, killing 79 people, received three warnings to reduce speed in the two minutes before the train hurtled off the tracks.
A court released a statement that said that the early results of the investigation showed the driver, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, was talking on the phone to a colleague when he received the first automatic warning in his cabin of a sharply reduced speed zone ahead. The statement said the warning was by means of an audible sound but provided no further detail.
The statement said police forensic tests on the train’s black box data recorders showed the last warning came just 250 metres before a dangerous curve where the accident occurred last week in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. At that point, the train was going at 121mph (195km/h) when the speed limit was 50mph. The train derailed at 111mph.
The state railway operator Renfe provides cell phones to its train drivers and requires that phones be operational while they’re on the clock. Renfe’s labor regulations recommend that the drivers use the mobile phones to resolve any problems that might affect passengers.
Responding to the preliminary crash investigation, a Renfe spokeswoman told CBS News that “phone contact between drivers and control centers is not unusual but not recommended if it poses a risk.”
In a court statement, the judge said the phone call, which came from the train’s on-board ticket inspector, had been inappropriate, but added that the accident “seems to have been caused, no doubt, by the driver’s inappropriate and unpredictable driving.”
Speaking about the final moments of the devastating crash, a tearful Francisco Garzon revealed he knew that he was travelling to fast.
Garzon has admitted in court that he was traveling too fast but could not explain to an investigating judge why he didnt slow down earlier. He was arrested shortly after the crash but was released by the judge on provisional charges relating to multiple counts of negligent homicide, reports the NY Daily Mail.
Sitting in the courtroom, he said: “I can’t explain it. I still don’t understand how I didn’t see… mentally, or whatever. I just don’t know.”
The journey was “going fine” until the curve was upon him, he said. When the danger became clear, he thought, “Oh my God, the curve, the curve, the curve. I won’t make it.”
He was asked to think back to that moment, and with his next response he said: “I tell you honestly that I do not know. I’m not so crazy as not to brake.”
He admits that even though he had all types of brakes activated, he knew they were not going to make it.
The edited video of Garzon’s appearance at Sunday night’s court session in Santiago de Compostela, where the accident occurred last week, was released by Spain’s ABC newspaper. Two court officials said the video appeared authentic. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the video has not been officially released.