NTSB: Engineers in Brooklyn, NJ train crashes had sleep apnea

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BROOKLYN -

National Transportation Safety Board investigators have found that engineers in two major railroad crashes in Brooklyn and New Jersey had undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.

Federal investigators are blaming both railroad agencies, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, for not doing a better job of screening employees for sleep apnea and referring personnel for testing and treatment before the incidents.

The New Jersey crash in Hoboken killed one person, and both incidents injured more than 200 people combined.

In the January 2017 Atlantic Terminal crash, investigators found that the engineer suffered from chronic fatigue due to sleep apnea. As a result, he has no memory of the train approaching the station well above the speed limit, and ultimately coming to an abrupt halt as it crashed into bumping posts.

There was a nearly identical set of circumstances in the September 2016 New Jersey crash. The engineer was fatigued due to undiagnosed sleep apnea and did not slow down the train as it approached Hoboken Terminal.

The NTSB is making strong recommendations not only to the MTA and NJ Transit, but to the Federal Railroad Administration to require screenings for sleep apnea and to install technology that could prevent similar crashes.

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