U.S. investigators eye possible medical problem of engineer in deadly N.J. train crash

Last Updated Nov 16, 2016 7:59 PM EST

Two U.S. officials say the engineer of a commuter train that slammed into a New Jersey station at double the 10 mph speed limit, killing a woman, suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea. One of the officials says investigators are looking at it as a potential cause.

Jack Arseneault, an attorney for engineer Thomas Gallagher, confirmed Wednesday that his client had been diagnosed on Oct. 31 — four weeks after the deadly collision — with sleep apnea. 

“The diagnosis made sense to Mr. Gallagher in light of the fact he couldn’t remember anything about the crash,” Arseneault said. “The last thing he remembers was checking his speed at 10 mph and blowing the horn then ringing the bell as he approached the station.”

The officials were briefed on the investigation and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.

They told the AP on Wednesday that Gallagher, 48,was diagnosed with the condition after the Sept. 29 crash in Hoboken. 

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by disrupted breathing throughout the night, which can cause daytime drowsiness. 

The National Transportation Safety Board told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave that looking into the engineer’s health is part of the investigation, which includes both diagnosed and undiagnosed medical conditions. 

In a statement, New Jersey Transit said they cannot discuss the details of the investigation, but said they do have a screening for sleep apnea. 

Gallagher told investigators he had no memory of the crash and remembered waking up on the floor.

A union representing Gallagher didn’t immediately respond to a message.

Powered by WPeMatico