Train operator admits falling asleep before O'Hare accident, official says

CHICAGO -- The operator of a Chicago commuter train that crashed at O'Hare International Airport admitted she "dozed off" before the accident, waking only when the train jumped off the tracks and climbed an escalator, a federal official said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a video posted and then removed from YouTube appears to show the moment the train jumped the tracks.

The video, which appears to be from a surveillance camera at O'Hare, shows a Chicago Transit Authority worker and a passenger talking at the top of the escalator as the train pulls into the station. As the train derails and the head car crashes into the escalator, ending up just shy of the turnstiles, both men run out of view of the camera.

The CTA declined to comment on the video to CBS Chicago, saying only that it did not release it.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Ted Turpin said the woman operating the train had been working as an operator for about two months and acknowledged she'd previously fallen asleep on the job in February, when her train partially missed a station.

"She did admit that she dozed off prior to entering the station," he said during a briefing Wednesday. "She did not awake until the train hit."

He said the woman, who was cooperating with the investigation, often worked an erratic schedule, filling in for other CTA employees.

"Her hours would vary every day," he said.

Turpin said the NTSB is investigating the woman's training, scheduling and disciplinary history.

"The CTA became aware of that (February incident) almost immediately and a supervisor admonished her and had a discussion with her," he said.

More than 30 people were hurt during the crash, which occurred around 3 a.m., but none of the injuries were serious.

Turpin said the crash caused about $6 million worth of damage.

Meanwhile Wednesday, crews were cutting apart the lead car of the eight-car train that was damaged during the crash, sending sparks into the air at typically busy station that remains closed.

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