Driver of Train that Derailed in Spain was Distracted

 

Spain – You might not think of a train accident when you think of distracted driving accidents, but talking on a phone can have fatal consequences even while driving a train on tracks.

According to the New York Daily News, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo was driving a passenger train at a speed of 95 mph while talking on his work phone. When he approached a curve with a speed limit of 50 mph he hit the brakes but the train derailed, throwing one car 50 feet away.The eight-car train wreck killed 79 of the 218 passengers, including two Americans. Some of the cars smashed into concrete walls and caught fire. 70 were injured and 22 of those are in critical condition. The victims have been reported from Algeria, Brazil, France, America, Italy and Mexico.

The accident happened in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, near a train station. A security camera showed a picture of the train just as it was derailing, and authorities were able to determine the cause of the wreck by examining the black box of the train. The box showed the train traveling as fast as 119 mph at times.

The Spanish Rail Agency said that the brakes should have been applied 2.5 miles before the curve, but Garzon admitted that he was going fast and couldn’t brake in time. Garzon also told the two men who helped him walk away from the accident that he didn’t want to see the accident, and that he just wanted to die. Authorities will determine if Garzon couldn’t apply the brakes because of speed, or if there was a malfunction.

Garzon, 52, who was injured in the wreck, has been provisionally charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide and was released without bail. Amo is forbidden to leave Spain and must appear in court once a week. Garzon was not thought to be a flight risk and therefore was able to be released pending his trial, but his train driving license has been withdrawn.

While speed was a huge factor in this crash, the driver may not have been speeding had he been paying attention, and not talking on his phone. While driving and using your phone, it is easy to forget how fast you are traveling. If a train – something that follows a set of tracks – can derail due to distracted driving, think how much more dangerous it is to drive a vehicle while distracted. Not only are there no tracks to follow, but there are dozens of other drivers around you at any given time, who are often unpredictable, not to mention pedestrians or children that can appear in the road from out of nowhere.

Last week we published an article about driving while texting. This article features just a few examples of devastating fatal texting accidents. Distracted driving is serious, and can change your life and the lives around you forever. Please put your phone in the glove box while you drive, and if you have an emergency, pull over before using your phone. A vehicle traveling at 50 mph will travel an entire football field’s distance in the time in takes you to glance at your phone for just seconds.

Christensen & Hymas knows the devastation that driving while distracted can cause. We sympathize with all the victims of this horrific accident and ask everyone to stop using their cell phones while driving.

Photo Tragedia en Santiago de Compostela – El día después” copy right of Contando Estrelas.

 

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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