The engineer who fell asleep at the controls of a Metro North Rail Road train in 2013, causing a crash that killed four people and injured dozens more, appeared in his first public interview, where he apologized for the incident.
In his interview, William Rockefeller reports reliving the incident every day, and says that he can’t stop seeing the faces of those who died and were injured.
“I just wish it never happened,” he told WABC-TV. “I’m sorry for it happening … I’m just haunted by those faces.”
On December 1, 2013, Rockefeller was manning the controls of a train headed to Grand Central terminal when he fell asleep, causing the train to derail while going around a curve in the Bronx at 82 miles per hour. The speed limit on the turn was only 30 miles per hour.
While the Association of Commuter Railroad Employees’ retired chairman, Anthony Botallico, claimed the railroad was warned of the curve prior to the accident, MTA officials say there is no record of such a warning.
After the crash, investigators discerned that Rockefeller had fallen asleep at the helm and that he suffered from an undiagnosed sleeping disorder.
Sleep disorders are alarmingly common in the United States. While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, 50-70 million adults are suffering from chronic sleep or wakefulness disorders.
According to reports, four people were killed, and more than 70 injured, in the crash. Ultimately, prosecutors did not bring charges against Rockefeller, as they determined the accident was not a product of criminal activities.
Rockefeller spoke to WABC-TV with a heavy heart, making it clear that he won’t be forgetting about the incident anytime soon. The currently unemployed engineer suffers regularly from flashbacks, nightmares, and what is described as “crippling, suffocating guilt.”
“The day just keeps playing over and over,” Rockefeller said. “Every day it feels like it just happened yesterday. No matter what I do I just can’t shake that feeling.”