A Blue Line train operator fell asleep early Monday morning causing injury to 32 people at the Chicago O’Hare Airport.
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) employee told investigators that she had drifted off prior to entering into the station and woke up at the time of the crash.
The eight-car train, which was accelerating over 20 mph, went over a bumper at the end of the track and slammed into an escalator.
The CTA operator also admitted to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator Ted Turpin that she dozed off and passed by a station once before in February.
Surprisingly, she was never terminated for the hazardous slip-up, but was instead warned by her CTA supervisor.
Investigators have determined that the train operator fills in for other employees at unpredictable schedules throughout the day.
Turpin acknowledges that this could probably be a reason behind her carelessness. He plans to conduct deeper research into her training and job performance.
“Recently, prior to this accident, [the operator] stated that she’d overslept and was late for work,” Turpin told the Chicago Sun-Times. “And we are now comparing all of CTA’s documentations as far as discipline records, time on-and off-duty — and comparing that to the schedules that she gave us during the interviews.”
“The CTA shouldn’t be risking its passengers to protect a known negligent train operator,” said attorney Matt Jenkins, who represents one of the passengers. “Millions of people ride the Chicago Transit Authority to and from work and they are entitled to feel safe as they do that.”
He hopes this incident is a lesson learned for the transit to improve its disciplinary policies.
The woman-who remains anonymous-earned her motorman qualifications in January. She had been an employee with the CTA since April 2013.
The crash caused $6 million in damages. The station remains closed until further notice.
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