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NTSB Says Engineer Of Derailed Amtrak Train Had Practiced Route Before

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Derailed Amtrak train cars that were previously dangling over I-5 have now been loaded onto flatbed trucks.

Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board expect to stay at least another week in Western Washington gathering evidence from Monday's deadly Amtrak train derailment.

Investigators have not yet interviewed the hospitalized train engineer.

The NTSB said the engineer who apparently drove the Amtrak Cascades train into a curve too fast had practiced the new route before, although how many times is unclear.

"Basically under Amtrak policy, he couldn't operate the train unless he was qualified and familiar with this territory,” said Ted Turpin, the federal investigator-in-charge. “The answer is yes, within the previous two weeks he had been qualified to operate in the territory."

The NTSB will look at whether the engineer was distracted. There was a conductor-in-training riding up front with him. Investigators retrieved forward-facing and inward-facing camera footage from the locomotive cab, but the video was damaged in the wreck.

"So we have sent it back to our laboratories, which are state-of-the-art labs in D.C., and we'll be trying to extract that information to get the video information," said NTSB Member Bella Dinh-Zarr at a briefing in DuPont about two miles from the crash scene.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.