Escorted by two police officers, the Alvia train driver, who was provisionally charged with 79 counts of homicide in the July 24 crash near Santiago de Compostela, was led into the courtroom on Sunday night where he testified for the first time about the incident.
In a copy of the transcript of the hearing obtained by EL PAÍS, Francisco José Garzón, 52, told investigating Judge Luis Aláez and prosecutor Antonio Roma in a closed Santiago courtroom that he did not drink alcohol that day before he took the controls of the train — only coffee.
Prosecutor. What were you thinking before you reached that second tunnel [the last one before the fatal accident on the A Grandeira curve]?
Garzón. I don't know; if I could only recall \[...\] the stigma that is going to remain with me all my life is tremendous.
P. All of us are working here, the police and the rest of us, to determine what was going through your head. I am asking you for some effort here to concentrate.
G. Your honor, I am telling you sincerely, I am not that crazy not to have pulled the brakes.
P. Did you activate the brakes at any moment?
G. Of course, man, that was given.
P. What type of brakes did you activate?
G. The wheel brake, etc.; all of them.
P. When did you notice that you were losing control of the train?
G. It was when we were coming on the curve; I knew, I knew that I wasn't going to make it.
P. Did you activate the brake system when you entered the tunnel?
G. Before I lost control of the train, I had everything activated and then I realized that I wasn't going to make it.
P. Have you seen the video of the accident?
G. No, I have not read the newspapers, listened to the radio or watched television.
Judge Alaéz proceeded with the questioning, asking Garzón if he remembered how fast he was going.
"When we crashed, I was going between 180km/h and 190km/h; I didn't have time to do anything," the train driver answered. The train's black boxes have shown that the train derailed when travelling at 153km/h.
When the judge asked him why didn't he slow down, Garzón responded: "I can't explain it, I don't understand how I wasn't able to see it."