[VIDEO] Blue Line Crash: Train Operator Admits Falling Asleep

[VIDEO] Blue Line Crash: Train Operator Admits Falling Asleep

The train operator involved in Monday’s CTA Blue Line accident at O’Hare has admitted to dozing off for a moment before the train crashed, according to Ted Turpin of the National Transportation Safety Board.

On Monday, a Blue Line train approaching O’Hare station continued on past the bumping posts at the end of the station. The train then went almost all the way up an escalator at the end of the platform.

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The NTSB held a two-hour interview with the train operator on Wednesday when she admitted to having dozed off. She did not awaken until the train hit the bumping posts.

According to CTA records, this was not the first time the employee had fallen asleep on the job.

In February, the operator fell asleep while operating a train and overpassed a stop. When she woke up, she realized she was too far past the platform to open the doors for passengers to board and exit the train, according to the NTSB.

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CTA officials reprimanded her for her first episode of falling asleep on the job in February, according to the NTSB. However, CTA officials have not yet spoken about what kind of disciplinary action – if any – she received for that violation.

The NTSB said that the operator has only two months of experience. The CTA hired her in April of last year and she began training in October. She did not become a qualified operator until January of this year. The NTSB also said that the operator was a fill-in, and that she had an inconsistent shift schedule.

Nobody died in the crash, but the accident injured 32 people. As of Wednesday, four of those people had filed lawsuits against the CTA.

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Turpin, the lead investigator of the crash for the NTSB, has estimated that the damaged train cars will cost $6 million to replace. He has not yet made any estimate on how much it will cost to fix the damage done to O’Hare station.

Turpin announced Tuesday that the train’s automatic braking system was working and active when the train crashed. The braking system is supposed to activate to stop the train automatically when it reaches the end of the line. It is still unknown why the train did not stop.

O’Hare station is still closed, and the CTA is providing shuttle buses between O’Hare and Rosemont stations. The Rosemont station entrance is now crowded with people who have just debarked from their flights and who are trying to purchase CTA fare cards.

On Thursday, the NTSB released both the train and the station to the CTA after the investigation completed. CTA workers have begun dismantling the train, and CTA officials said that they expect O’Hare station to re-open by this weekend.

Lauren Di Vito, Chicago News