Feds examining whether Amtrak engineer was distracted during crash: report

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are reportedly examining whether an engineer was distracted by an employee-in-training when his train derailed south of Seattle on Monday.

A federal official told The Associated Press that investigators are looking at whether the Amtrak train's engineer lost "situational awareness" because of a second person in the front of the locomotive at the time of the crash. 

At least three people were killed and dozens were injured in the derailment at an overpass in DuPont, Wash., about 20 miles southwest of Tacoma. The train was moving at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone at the time of the crash.


It is common in crash investigations to examine whether engineers were incapacitated or distracted.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, a member of the NTSB, said at a news conference on Monday that it is not yet known what caused the train to go off the rails and why it was going so fast. 

According to the AP, a technology that automatically slows down or stops speeding trains was not used on the track that the train was traveling on. 

Some positive train control components were in place, but the system is not set to be completed until next year.