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Metro-North engineer in fatal 2013 derailment sues MTA for millions

Former Metro-North engineer William Rockefeller, shown above on

Former Metro-North engineer William Rockefeller, shown above on a stretcher after the train he was operating crashed in 2013, has sued the MTA and seeks $10 million in damages. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The Metro-North engineer who fell asleep during a deadly Bronx derailment in 2013 is suing the commuter railroad for not taking proper precautions to prevent the crash that killed four people.

Engineer William Rockefeller filed a $10 million lawsuit on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan claiming Metro-North should have installed train control technology that would have automatically pumped the brakes on his speeding train.

Exactly three years ago, from the day of filing, Rockefeller fell asleep at the controls of his Manhattan-bound train, which was traveling 82 mph as it headed into a 30-mph curve when it derailed, according to a federal report from the National Transportation Safety Board. In addition to four deaths, the grisly crash caused 61 injuries.

The board found that Rockefeller was suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, exacerbated by a change in his shift schedule that occurred less than two weeks before the crash. He was cleared of criminal charges.

The four-page court document alleges that Metro-North failed to provide Rockefeller “with a reasonably safe place to work.” It also notes that the crash has left Rockefeller with post-traumatic stress disorder and “permanently disabling injuries” to his left shoulder. Those injuries, the suit alleges, were “suffered due to the negligence of Metro-North, its agents, servants and employees ...”

In a statement, the MTA said that it does not comment on pending litigation.

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