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Amtrak engineer commented on speed seconds before crash, NTSB says

Federal investigators reviewed video and audio that detailed the final moments inside the locomotive before the derailment.
Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed and cars crashed onto Intersate 5 near DuPont, Wash., Dec. 18, 2017. (Credit: KING)

Details of the final moments inside the Amtrak locomotive before the deadly derailment near DuPont were released Thursday as part of initial findings from a federal investigation.

On the footage reviewed by National Transportation Safety Board investigators, the crew were not seen using any personal electronic devices before the crash.

About six seconds before the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an overspeed condition. His actions were consistent with the train's brakes being applied just before the recording ended.

It does not appear the engineer applied the emergency brakes on the recording.

The recording ends as the train begin to tilt and the crew braces for impact.

The locomotive's final recorded speed was 78 miles per hour, which was nearly three times the limit in that area.

A 30 mph speed sign is posted two miles before the curve on the engineer's side of the track, according to the NTSB. Another 30 mph speed sign is posted at the beginning of the curve. On the straight section of the track north of the curve, the speed limit is 79 mph.

The Dec. 18 derailment killed three people and injured dozens others

The 55-year-old engineer has been with Amtrak for 13 years and was promoted to engineer in August 2013. There was also a 48-year-old qualifying conductor in the locomotive, who has been with Amtrak since 2010.

The NTSB has not interviewed any of the crew members that were in the locomotive yet, as they are still recovering from their injuries.

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