TRAGEDY IN GALICIA

“I don’t feel responsible for crash,” says conductor who made call to driver

Telephone conversation ended 11 seconds before fatal Alvia train accident

The Renfe conductor, who telephoned the driver of the train right before last week’s fatal crash, said Friday he doesn’t feel responsible for the tragedy that left 79 passengers dead and some 170 injured.

Antonio Martín Marugán appeared before a Santiago de Compostela judge, who is leading the inquiry, to admit that he called driver Francisco José Garzón just moments before the derailment occurred on July 24 as the Alvia train sped through a sharp curve.

Data from the train’s black box recorders show that the call ended 11 seconds before the train jumped the tracks and slammed into a concrete wall. Judge Luis Aláez said in a ruling on Thursday that he would not hold Martín responsible for the crash.

Garzón, on the other hand, faces 79 provisional homicide charges and other violations related to the injured passengers.

“At no moment did I feel guilty,” said Martín as he made his way to the courthouse. His testimony before Judge Aláez lasted little more than an hour.

Martín has admitted using the corporate phone to call Garzón to ask him to pull in to a particular part of the Pontedueme station when they reached A Coruña to help accommodate a family traveling with children.

Meanwhile, new details have emerged of what occurred moments before the accident. Garzón, who was going at twice the speed limit, heard an automatic signal alerting the driver that he was approaching the A Grandeira curve, where the crash occurred, while he was talking on the phone, according to EFE, which obtained a copy of a police summary report on the black boxes.

The train, which was traveling from Madrid to Ferrol, derailed at 8.41pm while it was speeding at 179km/h. Some four second later the driver threw the emergency brake, which dropped the speed to 153km/h, but the 13 rail cars had already begun to jump the tracks.

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