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Engineer Responsible for California Train Crash that Killed 25 had History of Cell Phone Use While Working

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Although bans on cell phone use and driving have only recently come to the forefront of legislation, Metrolink has prohibited its train engineers from using cell phones for a lot longer. Now, a source claims Robert Sanchez, the engineer operating the train that blew through a red signal and into a Union Pacific freight train last September, regularly used his phone while on the job. An investigation into the crash revealed Sanchez sent and received dozens of text messages while working the day of the crash, including sending a text message 22 seconds before the collision. The source, an anonymous co-worker who worked directly with Sanchez, claims he contacted his superiors at Connex Railroad LLC about Sanchez’s excessive cell phone use just a few weeks prior to the accident and that he complained to another co-worker the day of the crash. Furthermore, the source claims that Connex had found Sanchez to be in violation of both Connex and Metrolink rules of prohibiting engineers to use cell phones while on duty and that Connex failed to take any disciplinary measures.

Lawyers on behalf of 23 plaintiffs who were injured or killed in the crash amended their lawsuit on Monday to include the newfound negligence allegations against Connex, Sanchez’s employer. According to the L.A. Times, damage claims for this accident are well on their way to exceeding the $200 million cap imposed by Congress in an attempt to limit a railroad’s liability in a single accident. Although the dangers of texting while driving are well-known, people just don’t seem to get it. Not only is it illegal in some jurisdictions, but the harm you place yourself and those around you is substantial.