[QODLink]
Europe

Spain train crash driver has no explanation

Driver admits speeding and says he 'cannot understand' how he did not see the curve where July 24 crash killed 79 people

Last Modified: 02 Aug 2013 00:56
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The driver of the train that derailed in northwestern Spain and killed 79 people has admitted he was travelling at twice the speed limit before it hit a curve and crashed.

In a courtroom video released by a Spanish newspaper ABC on Thursday, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo told a judge he was at a loss to explain why he did not slow down before the July 24 crash.

"I can't explain it," Garzon said. "I still don't understand how I didn't see ... mentally, or whatever. I just don't know."

The journey was "going fine" until the curve was upon him, he said. When the danger became clear, he thought, "Oh my God, the curve, the curve, the curve. I won't make it."

The edited video came from the 52-year-old's appearance before the judge on Sunday. 

The train had been going as fast as 192km/h shortly before the derailment and the driver activated the brakes "seconds before the crash", reducing the speed to 153km/h, according to the court's preliminary findings based on onboard recorders. The speed limit on the section of track where the crash happened was 80km/h.

'It was inevitable'

In his evidence, Garzon said he was going far over the speed limit and ought to have started slowing down several kilometres before he reached the notorious curve.

Asked whether he used the brakes, Garzon replied, “The electric one, the pneumatic one ... all of them. Listen, when ... but it was already inevitable.”

Garzon said that after the derailment he called central control in Madrid about the accident.

The investigating judge is trying to establish whether human error or a technical failure caused the country's worst rail accident in decades, and Garzon is at the center of the investigation.

The judge provisionally charged Garzon on Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide.

National rail company Renfe said Garzon was an employee with 30 years of experience who became an assistant driver in 2000 and fully qualified in 2003.

Garzon went back to court, voluntarily, to offer more evidence on Wednesday.

In that second appearance, he said he was talking by phone to the train's on-board ticket inspector moments before the accident and hung up just before the train left the tracks. But that contradicted onboard recordings, which showed that Garzon was on the phone at the time of the derailment.

The court said the inspector would testify Friday as a witness. It said the judge has ruled that while the phone call was inappropriate it could not be considered a cause of the accident.

429

Source:
Associated Press
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.