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Engineer Charged in Wreck, Death Toll Revised To 42

September 1, 1985

CHATEAUROUX, France (AP) _ A judge charged locomotive engineer Jean-Yves Brisset with involuntary manslaughter Sunday for failing to slow his express train in a construction zone prior to a wreck that killed 42 people.

Conviction could mean a prison term of three months to two years and fines ranging from the equivalent of $575 to $3,600.

No Americans were known to have been on the train, but many British and Spanish tourists were among the casualties.

Police quoted Brisset, 37, as admitting he was traveling too fast in a 20 mph zone early Saturday. He was released Sunday pending trial.

Brisset left the courthouse in the central French city of Chateauroux by an underground exit after appearing before Magistrate Marc Baudot.

Brisset’s southbound Paris-Port Bou passenger express derailed before dawn Saturday after passing through the station at Argenton-sur-Creuse, and was hit by a mail train traveling in the opposite direction on another track.

Forty-two people were killed and dozens injured. Thirty-eight of the injured were hospitalized, 10 in critical condition.

Officials revised the death toll Sunday from an earlier count of 43, saying one badly hurt passenger had erroneously been counted among the dead.

The federal prosecutor in Chateauroux, Andre Loubes, quoted Brisset as telling him he looked for a speed limit sign, but did not see one and kept going 62 mph. When he saw his mistake, he slammed on the brakes, but it was too late, Brisset was quoted as saying.

Eighty-two people have been killed in three rail accidents in two months. Two of those accidents were said to have involved human error.

On Aug. 3, a head-on collision between two trains at Flaujac killed 32 people. A stationmaster has been charged with manslaughter in that incident.

On July 5, a Le Havre-Paris train hit a truck at a crossing, killing eight people.

Officials at the state-run railroad say studies are planned aimed at re- enforcing safety.

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