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  1. #1 LA train disaster engineer may have hanged his lover (KFI radio) 
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    From KFI radio, the John and Ken Show, Los Angeles

    Newsman Eric Leonard reported on KFI radio (3:15 PT today) that the driver in the LA Metrolink crash last week, Robert M. Sanchez, is suspected of having killed his male lover 5 years ago. Leonard reports that the that the family of the lover, Daniel Charles Burton, has always believed that Sanchez killed Burton. The Burtons tried to get the police to investigate their son's death as a murder to no avail. The death appeared to be a suicide, but the family has handwriting experts who say that the handwriting on the suicide note was not Burton's. The family also told the police that Burton was HIV positive and that he and Sanchez had a fight right before the "suicide." More recently, the Burtons called Metrolink to warn them that Sanchez was unstable.


    Eric Leonard also reports that "it looks clear from [Metrolink's] review of the [train] controls, that Sanchez did actually apply some speed controls within seconds of the crash but never braked."

    Here is more info from the LA Times, earlier in the day.


    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,6177629.story

    Those who knew Robert M. Sanchez say he was a relentlessly upbeat man with a passion for trains and Italian greyhounds. At the same time, the Metrolink engineer led a solitary life in recent years and was intensely private, sharing little about a past that included tragedy and run-ins with the law.

    Sanchez died Friday at the helm of a Metrolink train after apparently failing to stop at a signal near Chatsworth and colliding with an oncoming Union Pacific train. The crash, the worst in modern California history, killed 24 others and injured 135.

    Investigators on Tuesday said they had ruled out train and track failure in the accident, and are close to ruling out signal failure. They said they are now focusing on Sanchez and the long days engineers must work, which include lengthy breaks during non-peak hours.

    "Split schedules are something that are a great concern to us," said Kitty Higgins, a National Transportation Safety Board member. She said the agency also would look into a news report that Sanchez was involved in a fatal crash with a pedestrian earlier this month.

    In the years before his death, Sanchez led a nomadic life, with public records showing addresses in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Nebraska and California.

    In 2000, he and Daniel Charles Burton, a waiter, bought a home in Crestline.

    Burton moved to California from West Haven, Conn., his family said, seeking better weather and the freedom to be gay.

    No one in Burton's family knows how the two men met, but Burton and Sanchez ended up living together in Studio City before moving to the San Bernardino Mountains.

    On Feb. 14, 2003, Burton hanged himself in the garage of their home.


    "Rob, Happy Valentine's Day," read a note Burton left behind that his sister Carolann Peschell kept. "I love you. Please take care of yourself and Ignatia. I love you both very much. Daniel."

    Ignatia was the greyhound the men owned.

    The coroner's report showed that Burton tested positive for HIV. According to the report, Sanchez told investigators that he and Burton had been arguing before the suicide, and Sanchez told Burton that they should break up.

    Even before the suicide, Sanchez was having problems.

    In 2002, he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting a video game component from Costco, said Wilson Wong, his former attorney.

    Initially charged with a felony, Sanchez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, paid a fine and served 90 days in jail on weekends, Wong said.

    "When the incident happened, he was going through some personal issues -- he didn't tell me what they were," Wong said. "He said that's the reason he wasn't able to make good judgments. He said a lot of things were going on that caused him to make stupid mistakes."

    Sanchez had three minor traffic citations between 2001 and 2005, including speeding and failure to wear a seat belt. He also had a federal tax lien filed against him in 1991 for $6,054 and a Riverside County tax lien for $1,205 filed in 2006, records show. Both were resolved.

    After Burton's death, Sanchez rarely returned to Crestline. He bought a house in Menifee, near Temecula. At the same time he became increasingly interested in Italian greyhounds. That's when he met Lilian Barber.

    "He bought an Italian greyhound as a pet and wanted to breed her," said Barber, 77, of Murrieta, who has written four books on the small, sleek breed. "He called me and asked if I knew anyone in the area who had a male, so I invited him down to talk about the breed."

    The two began a friendship in which Sanchez, 44, would take Barber to lunch almost every week, sometimes spending the entire day with her.

    "He loved his job but always worried that he didn't have enough seniority and feared they would take his route away," Barber said.

    The NTSB said Tuesday that Sanchez was hired by Union Pacific in 1996. In 1998, he went to work for Amtrak, then he was hired by a contractor to work for Metrolink in 2005.

    Sanchez would take Barber to lunch at Thai, Brazilian and other ethnic restaurants. He'd come over and help her husband with yardwork. And he always promised to take them up to Crestline.

    "He talked a lot about Daniel and said they had bought the house together," Barber said, adding that he never mentioned that Daniel had died. "He loved animals and used to talk about being a kid and being involved with 4-H."

    He would come for lunch and stay past dinner. Still, he was reluctant to talk about much besides dogs and trains.

    "I did wonder about him," Barber said. "Why would this man in his 40s want to hang around a lady in her 70s?"

    Sanchez accompanied Barber to dog shows, including one in San Francisco to which he wore a tuxedo.

    "That was unusual," she said.

    Barber said that she has diabetes and that Sanchez told her he took diabetes medication as well. She said she couldn't imagine Sanchez doing anything irresponsible while driving the train, and wondered whether perhaps he "may have had a diabetic shock."

    In 2006, Sanchez moved into a modest, two-story home in La Crescenta along with his four greyhounds.

    A neighbor there, Oliver Amelsberg, 83, described Sanchez as polite but guarded, someone who liked talking about trains over the backyard fence but didn't reveal much about himself. And, like Barber, he also found Sanchez "different" but likable.

    "He was a good man," he said. "He acted and talked like a responsible person."

    Amelsberg said Sanchez once told him that he knew some teenagers enamored with trains that he'd occasionally wave to on his route.

    "He only said that once, but I thought about it when they mentioned they were sending messages" over cellphones, Amelsberg said.

    Investigators are looking into reports that Sanchez may have been text messaging a group of teenage rail enthusiasts just before the accident, and the NTSB said Tuesday that it had subpoenaed cellphone records to examine the engineer's text messages.

    As Sanchez settled into his La Crescenta house, his visits to Barber began drying up.

    "He called me before Christmas and said, 'I am on my way down, let's go to lunch,' but I told him I didn't have time to get ready and he got kind of short with me and hung up," she recalled. "It didn't seem very important at the time, but now it does because it would have been the last time I saw him."

    Barber reflected a moment.

    "He was so alive and always so up," she said. "I never met anyone so up. That's why it's so difficult to imagine that Rob is dead."
    Last edited by Elspeth; 09-17-2008 at 07:03 PM.
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  2. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogansPapa View Post
    Now they're saying there were various text messages to different teen agers. He blew two signals. I think this one's going to get creepy.:eek:
    Ooooops!
    At Coretta Scott King's funeral in early 2006, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, leaned over to him and whispered, "The torch is being passed to you." "A chill went up my spine," Obama told an aide. (Newsweek)
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    From CBS Channel 2, Los Angeles

    http://cbs2.com/local/Los.Angeles.train.2.819346.html

    NTSB: Engineer Did Not Hit Brakes Before Crash

    LOS ANGELES (CBS) ― Investigators say the commuter train engineer in Friday's deadly rail collision in Los Angeles did not hit the brakes before crashing into a freight train.

    The National Transportation and Safety Board also announced that both engineers had only four to five seconds to react to the sight of other train coming around the bend.

    Commuter train officials have blamed its engineer for running a red light and crashing into an oncoming Union Pacific freight on Friday in Chatsworth. The NTSB says the freight engineer hit the brakes about two seconds before the impact, which killed 25 people.

    The NTSB announced details from its investigation after conducting a visibility test Tuesday to determine when the engineers would have been able to see each other.

    Amid a federal investigation into whether a commuter train engineer was texting before a deadly collision with another train, the state's top rail safety regulator is seeking an emergency order banning train operators from using cell phones.

    "Some railroad operators may have policies prohibiting the personal use of such devices, but they're widely ignored," Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said Monday. "Our order would make it the law and we'll go after violators. We owe it to the public."

    The commission has scheduled a vote on the order Thursday.

    The collision between the Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight train killed 25 people and injured 138 people - the deadliest rail disaster in the U.S. in 15 years.

    A recently released federal report determined Metrolink has had the most fatalities of any rail system of similar size during the last 10 years, reported CBS station KCBS-TV in Los Angeles.

    Metrolink has blamed its engineer for not heeding a red light signal designed to prevent such wrecks, and the NTSB is reviewing whether the engineer was text messaging.

    Investigators did not find a cell phone belonging to Robert Sanchez in the wreckage, but two teenage train buffs who befriended him told KCBS-TV that they received a text message from him a minute before the crash.

    Kitty Higgins, an NTSB board member, said her agency issued a subpoena Monday to get the engineer's cell phone records. She said Verizon Wireless has five days to respond to the subpoena request.

    Higgins also said tests at the crash site showed the signals are working properly and there were no obstructions that may have prevented the engineer from seeing the red light.

    "The question is, did he see it as red?" Higgins said. "Did he see it as something else? Did he see it at all?"

    NTSB experts prepared to conduct a simulated crash test on Tuesday.

    On Monday some commuters - many wary and emotional - returned to the rail line on the first day of service since the accident. Regular commuters said the train load was much lighter than usual.

    Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tried to reassure them the trains are safe.

    "I want to dispel any fears about taking the train," he said. "Safety has to be our No. 1 concern, and while accidents can and do happen, taking the train is still one of the safest and fastest options for commuters."

    The NTSB said the commuter train, which carried 220 people, rolled past stop signals at 42 mph and forced its way onto a track where a Union Pacific freight was barreling toward it.

    The collision occurred at a curve in the track just short of where a 500-foot-long tunnel separates the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Chatsworth from Simi Valley in Ventura County.

    About a dozen bouquets were strung the length of the loading platform at the Simi Valley station as passengers Monday boarded buses and were shuttled to the Chatsworth station, bypassing the tracks still being cleared of wreckage.

    Commuters will use the buses again Tuesday morning.

    Jerry Romero, who normally takes a Metrolink train home but skipped it Friday to pick up a bicycle, said he was disturbed by reports that the engineer may have been texting.

    "That would be pretty disturbing in respect to what we're going through as a society, this fascination we have with gizmos," he said.

    In 2003, the NTSB recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration regulate the use of cell phones by railroad employees on duty after finding that a coal train engineer's phone use contributed to a May 2002 accident in which two freight trains collided head-on near Clarendon, Texas. The coal train engineer was killed and the conductor and engineer of the other train were critically injured.

    Metrolink prohibits rail workers from using cell phones on the job, but there is no existing federal regulation regarding the use of cell phones by railroad employees on the job, FRA spokesman Steven Kulm said.

    Audio recordings of contact between Sanchez and the conductor on the Metrolink show they were regularly communicating verbal safety checks about signals along the track until a period of radio silence as the train passed the final two signals before the wreck. The tapes captured Sanchez confirming a flashing yellow light before pulling out of the Chatsworth station.

    The train may have entered a dead zone where the recording was interrupted. Investigators tried to interview the conductor about the lapse Monday, but he declined because a company representative was not able to be present, Higgins said. He is still hospitalized with serious injuries.

    A computer indicated the last signal before the collision displayed a red light, and experts tested the signals Monday and determined they were working properly.

    On Tuesday they planned to take actual Metrolink and Union Pacific trains to recreate the events leading up to the accident and to test the signals further.
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    One of the fathers of the teenagers who were texting that day is on KFI radio now, defending his kids. Apparently a journalist from Channel 2 News (Christine Lazura) reported on his kid text messaging Sanchez a minute before the crash. Now people are blaming his kid for the crash. The kid had to shut down his website and can't go to school because of the animosity.
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    On the evening of the crash I remember seeing an interview at the crash seen of a young guy - maybe 16 - and he was saying what "a sweet and considerate man" this engineer was and how he always helped this kid out. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but damn……this sounds as if it’s going to get weird.
    At Coretta Scott King's funeral in early 2006, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, leaned over to him and whispered, "The torch is being passed to you." "A chill went up my spine," Obama told an aide. (Newsweek)
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    http://cbs2.com/local/Robert.Sanchez....2.819546.html

    Details In Train Engineer's Troubled Past Emerge

    CHATSWORTH Investigators probing Friday's fatal Metrolink collision planned to interview the freight train's brakeman and the conductor Wednesday, the first full day of resumed service along the stretch of track that was closed after the crash that killed 25 people and injured 135 others.

    Investigations have linked the cause of the crash to Metrolink engineer Robert Martin Sanchez, a La Crescenta resident who previously lived in Menifee.

    Authorities Tuesday staged a re-creation of the collision, bringing two trains nose-to-nose on the tracks in Chatsworth and then moving them back and forth to determine what the engineers on each was able to see before impact.

    The section of track where the crash occurred, which had been closed since then, was reopened about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

    At 4:23 p.m. Friday, the trains, each traveling about 40 mph, slammed together on a curving section of track near Chatsworth. The force of the collision sent the locomotive of the Metrolink train back through the adjoining passenger car.

    National Transportation Safety Board investigators Tuesday used a three-car Metrolink train and a three-car Union Pacific train to try to gain insight about when each engineer was able to see the other train.

    NTSB member Kitty Higgins said Sanchez never applied the Metrolink train's brakes, but the Union Pacific train engineer did.

    So far, tests have suggested that human error caused the northbound passenger train to run a yellow light and a red light and collide head-on with the freight train, according to the NTSB, which is in charge of the probe.

    Board officials said the signal lights all appeared to be working properly.

    Higgins said investigators planned to talk to the freight train's brakeman and conductor Wednesday. She said the freight train's engineer was too injured to talk at this point.

    Investigators Tuesday talked to the Metrolink conductor, who said he had worked with engineer Sanchez since April.

    The conductor said he was not aware of physical problems Sanchez might have had or what medication he might have been taking. He also said there had been no communication between the two as the train went through the last two stations.

    Higgins said the engineer normally worked an eight-hour work schedule, but had come to work at 5 a.m. Friday, worked until 9:26 a.m., took a two-hour nap, and then began his regular eight-hour shift at 2 p.m.

    There is only one engineer on each Metrolink train.

    Higgins said information downloaded from a recorder on the Metrolink train showed that its brakes were never applied.

    Higgins said her agency had the engineer's medical records, but could not share that information.

    Colleagues of the 46-year-old Sanchez, who died in the crash, were interviewed about what happened in the moments before the crash.

    According to the Los Angeles Times, people who knew Sanchez said he was an upbeat man who led a solitary life in recent years, but shared little about a past that included tragedy and run-ins with the law.

    Investigators said they had ruled out train and track failure in the accident, and were close to ruling out signal failure. They said they were focusing on Sanchez and the long days engineers must work, which include lengthy breaks during non-peak hours, The Times reported.

    According to The Times: Sanchez had lived in Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Nebraska and California, and in 2000, he and Daniel Charles Burton, a waiter, bought a home in Crestline.

    Burton had moved to California from West Haven, Conn., his family said, seeking better weather and the freedom to be gay. Burton lived together Studio City and moved to the San Bernardino Mountains.

    On Feb. 14, 2003, Burton hanged himself in the garage of their home.

    The coroner's report showed that Burton tested positive for HIV.

    According to the report, Sanchez told investigators that he and Burton had been arguing before the suicide, and Sanchez told Burton that they should break up.

    Even before the suicide, Sanchez was having problems.

    In 2002, he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting a video game component from Costco, said Wilson Wong, his former attorney. Initially charged with a felony, Sanchez pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, paid a fine and served 90 days in jail on weekends, Wong said.

    Sanchez had three minor traffic citations between 2001 and 2005, including speeding and failure to wear a seat belt.

    He also had a federal tax lien filed against him in 1991 for $6,054 and a Riverside County tax lien for $1,205 filed in 2006, records show. Both were resolved.

    The NTSB said Tuesday that Sanchez was hired by Union Pacific in 1996.

    In 1998, he went to work for Amtrak and was hired by a contractor to work for Metrolink in 2005.

    In 2006, Sanchez moved into a modest, two-story home in La Crescenta with his four greyhounds.

    Investigators are looking into reports that Sanchez may have been text messaging a group of teenage train enthusiasts just before the accident. The NTSB said Tuesday that it had subpoenaed cell phone records to examine the engineer's text messages.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogansPapa View Post
    On the evening of the crash I remember seeing an interview at the crash seen of a young guy - maybe 16 - and he was saying what "a sweet and considerate man" this engineer was and how he always helped this kid out. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but damn……this sounds as if it’s going to get weird.
    Well, you were right. This kid's dad is really upset and he is on KFI saying that the journalist might have been legally entitled to interview the teen (and show his face) but that it was not ethical. The father is very upset and John Kobylt is arguing with him. The dad's name is Craig Williams.
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    Oh shit. :eek:
    At Coretta Scott King's funeral in early 2006, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, leaned over to him and whispered, "The torch is being passed to you." "A chill went up my spine," Obama told an aide. (Newsweek)
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    Quote Originally Posted by LogansPapa View Post
    Oh shit. :eek:
    Yeah, it's not good.

    A writer called in to say that she interviewed a lot of Metrolink conductors and engineers for a book she is writing and she said two things I found interesting:

    1. There are always a bunch of teenagers congregated in certain places waving at the the engineers and conductors. Every Metrolink engineer and conductor she interviewed would wave back. Its a train lover's thing.

    2. Right in the area where the crash happened, Metrolink passengers lose cell phone power all the time. Text messages get delayed. It is possible, then, that Sanchez texted the kids earlier than the posted time on their cell phone.

    Kobylt was a dickwad, as usual, but I found the information interesting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elspeth View Post
    Kobylt was a dickwad, as usual, but I found the information interesting.
    His job is, after all, to stir shit - and he’s a hurricane in that department.
    At Coretta Scott King's funeral in early 2006, Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert Kennedy, leaned over to him and whispered, "The torch is being passed to you." "A chill went up my spine," Obama told an aide. (Newsweek)
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