Engineer in New Jersey Train Crash May Have Had a Sleep Disorder

Getty
Getty

Thomas Gallager, the engineer of the train that crashed into the Hoboken, station in New Jersey in September had a severe case of undiagnosed sleep apnea, according to his lawyer.

Advertisement

Sleep apnea, which is typically undiagnosed as it requires an overnight sleep test, is a condition where breathing can pause during sleep, causing someone to be intensely sleepy the next day. It’s the same condition that was blamed for a 2013 Metro-North Railroad crash that killed four people.

Advertisement

“It made sense to him because of his experience with the crash that he did everything that he would normally do,” Jack Arseneault, Gallager’s lawyer, told The New York Times. “He checked his speed, blew the whistle, rang the bell, and the next thing he knew he was on the floor.” Arseneault says that Gallager is a probable candidate for sleep apnea as he is “an extremely heavy man.”

Getty
Getty

One person died in the crash, and dozens more were injured. The crash also caused extensive damage to the Hoboken train station. The test results of Gallager’s sleep apnea diagnosis were sent to federal investigators last month.

This accident will probably renew calls for a system that automatically slows trains as they pull into a station, something that all New Jersey Transit trains currently lack.

Advertisement

[New York Times]

Staff Writer, Gizmodo | Send me tips: william.turton@gizmodo.com

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

komododave
komododave

The fact that trains are not autonomous is one of the main reason I think we’ll never reach the fully autonomous car future everyone thinks is coming. They’re on a track and have fixed, predictable stops. It would be magnitudes simpler to make a train drive itself rather than a car, and yet here they are, coming to the amazing conclusion that maybe trains should automatically slow near stops.