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Train Crash Probe Focuses on Cell Phone Use

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Associated Press: A commuter train engineer text messaged a promise to a teenage railroad fan -- "I'm gonna do all the radio talkin' ... ur gonna run the locomotive" -- minutes before a crash that killed 25 people in California last year, according to documents from federal investigators.

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The transcript of text messages sent and received by engineer Robert Sanchez were released Tuesday as the National Transportation Safety Board opened a two-day hearing into the Sept. 12 collision in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth that also injured at least 130 people.

Investigators sketched out the days and minutes leading up to the deadly crash between the Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight train that ended up on the same shared track and slammed head-on at 40 mph. Drivers could see the oncoming train for about five seconds before the wreck occurred.

Investigators described a rash of safety violations, from a stop light that went unheeded to cell phone use and furious text messaging -- actions that could have caused the collision.

Federal investigators said Sanchez sent and received 43 text messages and made four phone calls while on duty that day, including one that he sent 22 seconds before the collision. Investigators said the large number of text messages was not uncommon for the engineer in the days leading up to the crash.

Sanchez was killed in the collision.

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