Lawyers for William Rockefeller assert that 'Highway Hypnosis' was the cause of last week's fatal Metro North commuter train crash just outside New York City.
The seven-car passenger train derailed and went into a deadly spin while taking the bend at notorious Spuyten Duyvil creek — an old Dutch term meaning "spinning devil." Four people died instantly and more than 60 others were injured; a dozen critically.
The speeding train was en route to Grand Central Station, and Rockefeller was the engineer on duty at the time.
He too had been hurt in the accident, initially informing first responders that the locomotive's brakes had failed, then admitting that he'd fallen into a trance-like state with very lethal consequences.
The 46-year-old is a veteran of the railway transit system however, and, according to those representing him in the wake of the bloody disaster, the driver "daze" he experienced is not all that uncommon.
'Highway Hypnosis' as it's called is "the equivalent of what we all have when we drive a car," said Anthony Bottalico, head of the rail employees union in which William Rockefeller is a member.
He insists that, while Rockefeller may have zoned out on the job that terrible morning, he's nevertheless "a guy with a stellar record who, I believe, did nothing wrong."
Sadly for all the victims concerned, this may end up being the truth, but so far it's unclear whether federal investigators are buying the outspoken union leader's explanation.
In fact, as punishment for publicly discussing the case, the Feds have just banned Bottalico and his Association of Commuter Rail Employees from participating in the ongoing Metro North crash investigation.