Spain Train Driver Was On Phone At Time Of Derailment

The driver of a Spanish train that derailed last week was on the phone at the time of the accident. The revelation was made in court on Tuesday after analyzing the train’s data recording boxes.

The initial reading of the black boxes showed that Francisco Garzon received a call from the train company Renge just minutes before the accident.

The call was about the path to Ferrol, which was the high-speed train’s final destination from Madrid, reports Reuters.

Garzon has already been arraigned on 79 preliminary counts of negligent homicide — one for each passenger killed when the train derailed rounding a corner.

Crash investigators are still pouring over the data contained in the train’s black box recorders. The BBC notes that investigators also discovered the train was traveling at a speed of 119 miles per hour shortly before the crash. The brakes were activated shortly before the derailment.

The speed limit on the curve is 49 miles per hour, less than half the speed the train was actually going at the time of the accident. A court statement said on Tuesday:

“Minutes before the train came off the tracks he received a call on his work phone to get indications on the route he had to take to get to Ferrol.”

The statement added, “From the content of the conversation and background noise it seems that the driver consulted a map or paper document.”

The derailment happened near Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwestern Spain. The curve in question is notorious for its slow speed and the concrete wall that runs alongside the railroad tracks. It was that wall that the speeding train hit after it derailed last Wednesday while carrying 218 passengers.

The train driver suffered a head injury, but has since been discharged from the hospital. He was arrested and appeared in court this week, after which a Spanish court let him go without bond. However, Garzon’s train driver’s license was suspended and he is not allowed to leave the country without permission from the court.

It is unclear what effect the recently revealed information will have on the preliminary charges against the Spain train driver.

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