According to preliminary investigations, the high speed train that derailed July 24th in Barcelona, Spain, was traveling at least twice the speed limit at the time of the accident. A total of 79 were killed and 150 were injured. There have been several alarming developments released by the Spanish court.
The driver of the train, Francisco José Garzón Amo, was on the phone with an official of Renfe, the Spanish national railway company that confirmed that Garzon was also reading a map or other kind of document while traveling at 150 kilometers an hour. While traveling in an area where the speed limit is 80 miles per hour, the train was going 119 miles per hour.
In the past, Garzon has boasted about his affinity for speed on social media site, Facebook. Although the recent posts have been deleted since the accident, New York Times reports that a previous Facebook post shows a picture of the speedometer needle on a locomotive stuck at 200 kilometers. In the post, Garzon brags that the needle had not been tampered with.
Garzon was arrested in his hospital room charged with multiple accounts of reckless homicide. He was released without bail, but his passport has been taken away and he must register his presence with the court weekly. His current location has not been released to the media, but his last known address was with his ailing mother, as Garzon is divorced and has no kids.
Most high-speed train lines in the European traffic system use a system that is G.P.S.-based with a surveillance network. They monitor the trains’ speed and automatically brakes at speed limits. The largest union of railway workers has reported that the surveillance system tracking the train’s speed is partly to blame, because it is known to have issues that are human error.
An additional driver was also in the cabin with Garzon at the time of the accident. Investigators have discovered evidence that shows that he pressed the brakes seconds before the accident. The train derailed, barreled into a turn, careened off the rails, and slammed into a concrete wall causing some of the cars to catch fire. Hopefully the two “black boxes” will help add clarification as to additional causes and circumstances surrounding the derailment.
Aboard the Alvia 151 train were 218 passengers mostly from Spain, although some passengers were known to be from Algeria, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United States.
Written By: Kimberly M. Scott