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Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 22:51 UK

LA rail crash driver was texting

Robert Sanchez, file image
Mr Sanchez failed to brake at a red light

A Los Angeles train driver sent a text message on his mobile phone 22 seconds before his train crashed, killing 25 people, investigators say.

Robert Sanchez, who was among the dead, sent 29 messages while on duty on the day of the crash, phone records show.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it is pursuing "many avenues of inquiry" into the accident's cause.

The Metrolink passenger train missed a red signal just before ploughing into a freight train on 12 September.

It was the deadliest rail crash in the US for 15 years.

"I am pleased with the progress of this major investigation to date," said acting safety board chairman Mark Rosenker.

Teenagers' claims

Mr Sanchez's phone records show that he sent his last text message at 1622:01. The accident occurred at 1622:23, according to the freight train's on-board recorder.

Investigators said they were continuing to correlate times from Mr Sanchez's mobile phone, the train recorders and data from the rail signalling system.

Investigators assess train crash in Los Angeles on 16/09/08
More than 130 people were hurt in the collision

Since the crash, train drivers in California have been banned from using mobile phones while they are on duty.

Anyone found guilty of violating the new order could now be fined up to $20,000 (11,000).

The Metrolink passenger train was carrying 222 passengers between Los Angeles and Moorpark, north-west of the city, when the crash happened.

Rail investigators have concluded that Mr Sanchez failed to brake at a red signal and smashed into the freight train.

The force of the impact drove the passenger train's engine back inside the first carriage.

Mr Sanchez was among 25 people killed and more than 130 were injured.

The board requested his mobile phone records after two teenage train enthusiasts who befriended the driver told a local TV station they received a text message from Mr Sanchez just before the crash.


SEE ALSO
LA train crash prompts phone ban
19 Sep 08 |  Americas
'Texting' clue to LA train crash
16 Sep 08 |  Americas
Human error suspected in LA crash
13 Sep 08 |  Americas
Los Angeles train crash kills 18
13 Sep 08 |  Americas
Train crashes in California
06 Jan 03 |  Americas

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