Court: Driver on phone during Spain train crash

Published On: Jul 30 2013 12:04:36 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 30 2013 01:38:41 PM EDT

The driver of a train that derailed in northwestern Spain last week, killing 79 people, was on the phone with railway staff when the train crashed, the superior tribunal of Galicia announced Tuesday, citing information from data recorders.

Also Tuesday, the court announced that the train was going 153 kph (95 mph) when it derailed. Last week, a spokeswoman for national railway Renfe said the speed limit for the bend of the track where the crash happened is 80 kph (49 mph).

The driver, Francisco Jose Garzon, was charged earlier this week with 79 counts of homicide by professional recklessness and an undetermined number of counts of causing injury by professional recklessness.

The train, nearing the end of a six-hour trip from Madrid to the town of Ferrol, derailed Wednesday evening as it hurtled around a bend in Santiago de Compostela.

Minutes before the derailment, Garzon received a call on his work phone, apparently receiving instructions on the way to Ferrol from a Renfe staff member, the court said Tuesday.

He was on the phone when the derailment happened, and background noise seems to indicate he was looking at or shuffling papers, the court said.

Regarding the speed: The court said Garzon activated some brakes seconds before the derailment, bringing the speed down from 192 kph (119 mph) to 153 kph (95 mph).

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