Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Train Driver Is Focus of Investigation, Officials Say ; Spanish Rail Officials Defend Him as Family Members Seek Answers

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Train Driver Is Focus of Investigation, Officials Say ; Spanish Rail Officials Defend Him as Family Members Seek Answers

Article excerpt

A veteran train driver was arrested in his hospital room in Spain as investigators ask whether reckless behavior led to the train wreck that left dozens dead.

A veteran train conductor with a zest for speed was arrested in his hospital room in northwest Spain where investigators are probing whether reckless behavior led to a train wreck that left dozens of passengers dead, the authorities said Friday.

The conductor, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, 52, is the focus of a criminal investigation, according to Jaime Iglesias, the national police commander from Galicia who said at a morning news conference that investigators were awaiting for his condition to improve to start questioning him about the Wednesday crash. A judicial inquiry, he added, could also take place in the hospital.

Photographs of the conductor, his face bloodied, appeared prominently in Spanish newspapers along with screen grabs of the driver's now deleted Facebook page where he bragged last year about topping speeds of 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, per hour.

But Julio Gomez-Pomar, the president of Renfe, Spain's rail network, on Friday described the conductor as a seasoned employee who had passed through the curved wall of the crash site some 60 times without incident and had exhaustive knowledge of the line.

The black boxes, recovered from the wreckage of the train, could help explain why the Alvia 151 roared off the track on a bend as it was approaching Santiago de Compostela at twice the speed limit.

The death toll from the train wreck, revised lower with new identifications of bodies, now totals 78, with most of the victims from Spain along with passengers from Algeria, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the United States.

In silence and tears, relatives of victims gathered by the broken track and the gray concrete bend marked with scallop shells, the symbols of the ancient way of the apostle St. James. The shell is a badge of honor for pilgrims who completed the journey along the ancient Camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Ana Maria Cordoba, an administrative employee with the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia, was riding the train with her husband and daughter to visit her son who had just completed the camino. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.