O'Hare Derailment Video Surfaces as Operator Admits She Fell Asleep

By Erica Demarest and Quinn Ford  on March 26, 2014 7:39am  | Updated on March 26, 2014 11:57am

O'Hare Blue Line Crash
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CHICAGO — Video footage of the CTA Blue Line derailment that injured 35 people Monday at O'Hare International Airport has surfaced online.

The 44-second video, which appears to be surveillance footage, opens with two men talking near a set of escalators. A man with a rolling suitcase appears to be asking questions of an airport or CTA employee.

About 27 seconds into the video, the men realize the CTA train arriving at the station isn't stopping. They run out of the frame as the train coming toward them jumps the tracks, with the train finally coming to a halt at the top of the escalators.

The derailment happened just before 3 a.m. Monday.

The woman operating the train admitted she fell asleep right before the crash, a federal investigator said Wednesday. The operator woke up when the train jumped the tracks and hit the escalator.

The operator dozed off once before, when she partially missed a stop in February, said Ted Turpin, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to Turpin, the operator has been with the CTA since April 2013 and operating trains for two months.

Monday's crash occurred during the fourth of the driver's five scheduled roundtrips between O'Hare and Logan Square.

Turpin noted that the operator was "very cooperative" and "very forthcoming" during the investigation. She was not taking any medication, he said, and worked as an "extra board" employee. That means she didn't have a set schedule, but rather picked up extra shifts as the CTA needed help.

Thirty-five people were injured in Monday's crash. The accident caused $6 million in equipment damage, Turpin said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the crash site "very jarring" Wednesday, as he spoke at an unrelated news conference. The mayor said he'd been to O'Hare since the crash for a briefing.

"In your mind's eye, you can't imagine the train up on an escalator, so it's a very jarring picture," Emanuel said. "I think the most important thing to be said on the subject is, thank God nobody was seriously injured."

The CTA has halted Blue Line trains between the O'Hare and Rosemont stops indefinitely.

On Wednesday, city workers began to cut apart and remove the train from the tracks and escalator. The National Transportation Safety Board will release a full report in coming weeks.

Emanuel declined to comment further on the crash: "I want to wait for the complete report."

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