February 11, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST
SECAUCUS, New Jersey (CNN) -- The engineer of the commuter train that sideswiped an oncoming train Friday may have been suffering from sleep deprivation, investigators said Saturday.
Engineer John DeCurtis, 59, had just worked 14.5 hours with a 4.5-hour sleep break when his train sped past a signal on the track telling him to stop. The train hit a westbound train barreling through the junction, killing DeCurtis, another engineer and a passenger.
New Jersey Transit officials said DeCurtis clocked in to work Thursday at 6:11 p.m., took a sleep break Friday from 12:48 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., and was supposed to get off work about 7:30 a.m. However, DeCurtis agreed to make one more round-trip. The accident occurred at 8:40 a.m. as he was on his way back.
The signal system was working properly, said Jim Hall, National Transportation Safety Board chairman, said Saturday.
SWEETWATER, Tennessee (CNN) -- Nearly 500 people, including over 100 nursing home residents, were evacuated Saturday for the second time this week after fumes from a chemical spill caused a flash fire.
A railroad tank car spilled 8,000 gallons of carbon disulfide Wednesday, forcing an evacuation of residents living within a one-half mile radius of the site. By Saturday, most had returned to their homes.
But lingering chemical fumes had collected under a tarp placed near the leak by railroad officials, said Nick Sommers, spokesman for Chicago-based Akzo Chemical Inc. When hazardous material experts tried to move the tarp Saturday morning, a spark caused a flash fire, which quickly dissipated.
Authorities believed "it was prudent to evacuate until the tarp was removed and the site was stabilized," Sommers said. He didn't know when the evacuees could return to their homes.
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