By Chass Armstrong
The train wreck that took place last December which killed 4 and injured 70 others may be linked to sleep apnea. Just prior to the crash, the train’s conductor, William Rockefeller, nodded off and was unable to control the train’s speed. It traversed a curve on the track that requires a 30mph speed limit. However, the train slammed that turn at 82 miles an hour, which caused it to derail.
Rockefeller’s inability to stay awake was due to two things. The first was an undiagnosed case of Sleep Apnea, and the second, a very distinct change in his work schedule. Rockefeller typically worked late afternoons and evenings as a conductor, but just two weeks prior to the accident, he had been assigned the early morning shift.
Last April, nearly 5 months after the accident, William was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. While he remained asleep, his breathing was interrupted dozens of times during the night. This lack of quality sleep without a doubt attributed to his inability to stay awake while conducting the train.
Along with the shift change, and sleep apnea causing drowsiness for Rockefeller, his train did not have a feature to prevent speeding called “Positive Train Control”. The combination of all of these created a recipe for disaster.
The FAA and Trucking industry already require Pilots and Drivers to take sleep tests to screen for sleep apnea. Perhaps the Rail Road Commissions should be next.
If you or someone you know suffers from excessive fatigue or daytime sleepiness, they may be suffering from sleep apnea. Please don’t hesitate to get into contact with us. We offer a free sleep questionnaire, at-home sleep testing, compliance assistance, and can help you get your sleep apnea treatment covered through your insurance. You can give us a call at (888) 345-1780 or on the web, here. We look forward to hearing from you so that we can help you take your days back from fatigue!