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Does drowsy driving amount to crime in NYC train derailment?

The wreckage of a Metro-North commuter train lies on its side after it derailed just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station December 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

NEW YORK - New York City's Metro-North Railroad is already getting hit with multimillion-dollar civil claims over a deadly commuter train derailment, but legal experts say prosecutors will face tough choices when deciding whether to bring criminal charges against the engineer.

Train operator William Rockefeller told investigators he fell into a daze at the controls before Sunday's wreck.

Legal experts say drowsy driving isn't necessarily a crime.

It can be tough to prosecute drivers who fall asleep at the wheel unless there are extra factors in play, such as drug use or brazen disregard for passenger safety.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson has declined to comment publicly.

An attorney representing passengers on the derailed train says his clients want to hold Metro-North accountable for not installing safety equipment that could have prevented the accident.

Metro-North says it's a difficult and expensive process.

  • Crimesider Staff

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