Looks like they are going to release the content of the text messages today, among other things:
Feds to hold hearing on deadly L.A. train crashhttp://channels.isp.netscape.com/news/s ... tm&sc=1110
By DAISY NGUYEN
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dozens of text messages sent and received by an engineer on a commuter train could provide more insight into the cause of a crash that killed 25 people and injured at least 130 others last September in the San Fernando Valley.
On Tuesday, federal investigators plan to release a transcript of the messages, other documents and interviews with witnesses conducted during their ongoing investigation into the nation's deadliest rail crash in 15 years.
The disclosures coincide with the start of a two-day hearing on the crash by the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C.
Federal investigators determined that Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez sent and received 57 text messages while on duty that day, including one that he sent 22 seconds before his train slammed head-on into a Union Pacific freight train.
The preliminary investigation also showed the commuter train failed to stop at a red light just before the crash and ended up on the same shared track as the oncoming freight train. Sanchez was among the dead.
Survivors, family members of victims and their lawyers said they'll monitor the hearing closely in hopes of learning key details of the crash.
``It's not going to change anything for me. To know what happened might give us some peace, I guess,'' said Jeff Buckley of Simi Valley, whose father Alan was killed in the collision.
The Metrolink train was carrying 220 passengers when the collision occurred on a horseshoe-shaped section of track.
The NTSB panel conducting the hearing will focus on cell phone use by train crew members; the operation of trackside signals designed to prevent collisions; and oversight and compliance with safety procedures during the Sept. 12 crash in Chatsworth.
Robert Heldenbrand, the conductor of the Metrolink train, contends the signal light was actually green as the train left the station about a mile from the crash site.
Heldenbrand also told investigators he had warned a supervisor months before the deadly crash about Sanchez's on-duty cell phone use. He said he followed up with the same supervisor two days before the collision and was assured his concern would be addressed.
His contention is the basis of dozens of negligence lawsuits that allege Connex Railroad LLC, the contractor that provides engineers who run Metrolink trains, knew about the cell phone use but did nothing about it.
Connex is a subsidiary of Veolia Transportation Inc., a private operator of bus, rail, shuttle and other transportation services throughout North America.
``How far up the Veolia/Connex chain had the complaints gone before the accident? We hope to find out about that, and a number of other things,'' said attorney Ed Pfiester, who represents 24 people suing the companies.
Connex and Metrolink said they have strict cell phone policies prohibiting use of cell phones by on-duty employees.
The crash prompted a federal ban on cell phone use by rail workers and led Congress to pass a new law requiring so-called ``positive train control'' technology that can stop a train if it's headed for a collision.
Metrolink also pushed for a number of safety measures, including a video camera system to monitor locomotive crews.