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The Latest: New Mexico crash prompts safety recommendations

April 10, 2018

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on the cause of a deadly freight train wreck in New Mexico (all times local):

10:25 a.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that railroad companies install video and audio recording devices in their train cabs to monitor the activities of crew members to ensure safe operations.

The board during a meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C., also recommended that federal railroad regulators find ways to prevent collisions like the one in eastern New Mexico in 2015 in which an engineer was killed and a crew member was seriously injured.

The two crew members had jumped from their Southwestern Railroad train before it struck a parked train on a siding near Roswell. Investigators say a crew member of the parked train failed to reset a track switch before going off duty.

The board acknowledged the lack of adequate warning systems, noting that failure to reset manual switches is a known high-risk hazard.

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10 a.m.

Federal investigators say the crew of a freight train that collided with a parked train tested positive for drugs but that their response in the moments leading up to the 2015 crash did not indicate signs of impairment.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the trains collided after a crew member of the parked train failed to reset a track switch before going off duty.

They also told board members during a meeting Tuesday that the crew of the moving train had expected the switch to be in the right position as they approached the area and that signals to indicate a misaligned switch could be improved to prevent similar collisions.

The engineer was killed and a second crew member was seriously injured when they jumped from their Southwestern Railroad train before it hit the parked train.

Tests showed the engineer had marijuana in his system. The conductor tested positive for oxycodone and it was unclear if he had a prescription for the medication.

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8:50 a.m.

Federal safety officials say human error is to blame for a deadly 2015 collision involving two freight trains in eastern New Mexico.

An engineer was killed and a second crew member was seriously injured when they jumped from their Southwestern Railroad train before it struck a train parked on a siding near Roswell on April 28, 2015.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that a crew member of the parked train had failed to reset a track switch before going off duty.

Investigators and other experts who testified before the board said switch alignment failures have been involved in other wrecks and that failure to reset manual switches is a known high-risk hazard.

Data shows human-caused accidents have accounted for 37 percent of the events reported to the Federal Railroad Administration between 2008 and 2017. Switch alignments accounted for 13 percent of those.

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12:11 a.m.

Federal safety officials are expected to determine the probable cause of a fatal 2015 collision involving two freight trains in New Mexico and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar wrecks.

The National Transportation Safety Board is meeting in Washington on Tuesday.

An engineer was killed and a second crew member was seriously injured when their Southwestern Railroad train struck a train parked on a siding near Roswell on April 28, 2015.

A preliminary report said the moving train went through a misaligned switch and that the parked train’s crew went off duty about 20 minutes before the wreck and weren’t present when it happened.

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