Union: Chicago train operator 'extremely tired'

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
8 PHOTOS
Chicago
See Gallery
Union: Chicago train operator 'extremely tired'
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 24: Chicago Transit Authority workers put up signs informing travelers that the CTA's O'Hare International Airport station is closed after a commuter train derailed, closing the station on March 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. CTA riders will uses shuttle service to get to and from the airport until the wreckage is cleared after more than 30 were injured when the train slammed into the platform overnight coming to rest on an escalator. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
A derailed Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station early Monday, March 24, 2014, in Chicago. More than 30 people were injured after the eight-car train plowed across a platform and scaled the escalator at the underground station. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
A Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station after it derailed early Monday, March 24, 2014, in Chicago. More than 30 people were injured after the train "climbed over the last stop, jumped up on the sidewalk and then went up the stairs and escalator," according to Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. (AP Photo/NBC Chicago, Kenneth Webster) MANDATORY CREDIT
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 24: Chicago Transit Authority workers erect a tarp to cover the scene where commuter train derailed at the O'Hare International Airport station on March 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 30 were injured when the train slammed into the platform overnight coming to rest on an escalator. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
WINNETKA, IL - MARCH 18: National Transportation Safety Board investigator Timothy DePaepe speaks to reporters outside of the O'Hare International Airport station where a commuter train derailed on March 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 30 were injured when the train slammed into the platform overnight coming to rest on an escalator. The Chicago Transit Authority's O'Hare station will be closed while the NTSB investigates the crash. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
WINNETKA, IL - MARCH 24: Travelers board shuttle busses at O'Hare International Airport bus terminal after a commuter train serving the airport derailed at the O'Hare station on March 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 30 were injured when the train slammed into the platform overnight coming to rest on an escalator. The Chicago Transit Authority's O'Hare station will be closed while the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the crash. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
WINNETKA, IL - MARCH 24: Chicago Transit Authority President Forrest Claypool (C) and National Transportation Safety Board investigator Timothy DePaepe (L) speak to reporters outside of the O'Hare International Airport station where a commuter train derailed on March 24, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 30 were injured when the train slammed into the platform overnight coming to rest on an escalator. The CTA's O'Hare station will be closed while the NTSB investigates the crash. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


By CARLA K. JOHNSON and PRIYA SRIDHAR

CHICAGO (AP) - The president of a Chicago transit union said Monday there are indications that the operator dozed off before the train jumped the tracks and scaled an escalator at one of nation's busiest airports, injuring 32 people.

The operator told Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly that she had worked a lot of overtime recently and was "extremely tired" at the time of the derailment, he said at a news conference.

The derailment happened just before 3 a.m. Monday at the end of the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line at O'Hare International Airport. No one suffered life-threatening injuries.

Earlier, National Transportation Safety Board official Tim DePaepe said investigators had not drawn any conclusions about the cause of the accident, but were looking into whether faulty brakes, signals or human error were factors.

The operator, who was still hospitalized, will be interviewed, DePaepe said, and investigators would examine her routine over the last few days.

The timing of the helped avoid an enormous disaster, as the underground Blue Line station is usually packed with travelers coming to and from Chicago.

Denise Adams, a passenger on the train, described the impact to reporters.

"I heard a 'Boom!' and when I got off the train, the train was all the way up the escalator," she said. "It was a lot of panic."

Monday's accident occurred almost six months after an unoccupied Blue Line train rumbled down a track for nearly a mile and struck another train head-on at the other end of the line in September. Dozens were hurt in that incident, which prompted the CTA to make several safety changes.

Investigators will review video footage from a camera in the station and one that was mounted on the front of the train, DePaepe said. The train will remain at the scene until the NTSB has finished some of its investigators, after which crews will remove the train and fix the escalator that has "significant damage."

Hours after the crash, the front of the first car could still be seen near the top of the escalator.

While the station is shut down, the CTA was busing passengers to and from O'Hare to the next station on the line.

The train appeared to have been going too fast as it approached the station and didn't stop at a bumping post - a metal shock absorber at the end of the tracks.

"Apparently (it) was traveling at a rate of speed that clearly was higher than a normal train would be," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. He also said it wasn't clear how many people were on board at the time of the crash, but that it took place during what is "typically among our lowest ridership time," Steele said.

The injured were taken to area hospitals, and Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said Monday morning that most were able to walk away from the wreck unaided.

Chicago's 240-mile subway system, which had fallen into disrepair in recent decades, has recently undergone renovations. A four-year, $429 million overhaul has started on the Blue Line from O'Hare to downtown. The line, which still has stations built in the late 1800s, was extended to O'Hare in the early 1980s.

Transit officials say there are more than 80,000 daily riders along the Blue Line O'Hare branch.

___

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner contributed to this report from Chicago.

Read Full Story

People are Reading