Investigation: Metrolink Engineer Allowed Teens to Ride-Along

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CHATSWORTH -- A federal investigation into cell phone text messages shows that the engineer who's been blamed for the Metrolink disaster sometimes allowed teens to ride with him in the cab of the trains.

On September 12, a commuter train and a freight train collided head-on in Chatsworth, killing 25 people on board the Metrolink train, including engineer Robert Sanchez. Dozens of other people were injured in the crash.

The Los Angeles Times reports that text messages found as part of a federal investigation into the crash apparently show that teenagers rode with Robert Sanchez on more than one occasion, according to people who spoke with the
Times on the condition they not be named.

There is no evidence to show that any teenagers were riding in the cab of the commuter rail with Sanchez on the day of the crash.

Unauthorized ride-alongs are a serious violation of safety regulations.

A preliminary investigation into the deadly disaster showed Sanchez ran through a red signal light and slammed into a Union Pacific freight train on a section of shared track.

The National Transportation Safety Board is preparing to release details on text messaging and other factors during a two-day hearing that begins Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Safety investigators have said that Sanchez received and sent 57 text messages while on duty the day of the crash, including one 22 seconds before impact.

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