A source familiar with the LIRR train crash probe identified the engineer as 50-year-old Michael Bakalo.
The engineer at the helm of the speeding LIRR train that crashed into Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal was identified as Michael Bakalo, a source familiar with the probe told the Daily News.
Bakalo’s role in Wednesday morning’s crash is a key part of the probe from the National Transportation Safety Board, whose investigators interviewed him without getting much useful information, sources said.
There were 103 passengers on board the six-car train who suffered injuries when it overshot the platform and smashed into the metal bumper at the terminal at rush hour at 8:20 a.m.
Bakalo, 50, from Melville, was part of the three-person crew that reported to work at Penn Station at 12:16 a.m. The six-car train that crashed was Bakalo’s next-to-last trip of the shift, according to investigators.
NTSB investigators have said the engineer remembers pulling into the station but has no recollection of the train crashing into the terminal’s bumper at more than twice the 5 mph speed limit.
Investigators say a drop in speed from 33 mph to 15 mph and then a fluctuation between 2 and 10 mph — point to human error possibly induced by sleep apnea, sources said.
The LIRR does not check for sleep apnea, but the agency is looking for at least one health care provider to handle testing for the commuter rail and NYC Transit workers.
The plan is an expansion of a program to test all 438 Metro—North engineers and trainees following the fatal train derailment in the Bronx in Dec. 2013.
The MTA spotted the sleep disorder in 12% of workers, or 51 employees, who are now undergoing treatment.
Bakalo has had concerns about workplace safety since joining the LIRR in 1999. He filed two federal lawsuits against the agency — in May 2006 and June 2015 — totaling more than $1.2 million for failing to provide him with “a reasonably safe place to work.”
In his 2015 case, he claimed that the alleged safety lapses caused “severe and disabling injuries… including but not limited to his left knee,” but the complaint did not specify how he injured himself on the job.
This is not the first time Bakalo has come under scrutiny. In 2002, he was caught up in a Queens auto insurance fraud sting called Operation Street Sweep.
He was accused of netting $15,685 from State Farm Insurance when he reported his 1997 Oldsmobile Aurora stolen on a service road off the Van Wyck Expressway at 94th St.
The Oldsmobile was actually delivered to a middleman, who sold the car to undercover detectives for $900, Queens prosecutors alleged.
The Queens DA office would not provide additional information on Bakalo’s case because it had been sealed.
When a Daily News reporter reached Bakalo’s home, a woman who answered the door said “no comment”.
Wednesday’s crash has already produced one lawsuit against LIRR and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from Clifford Jones, 48, who is suing for $5 million.
This article was sourced from http://electriccigarettesnews.com