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Thomas Kenniff Discusses Train Derailment Tragedy

  • December 6, 2013

smile The recent train derailment, in New York Metro North, left behind a wave of chaos and injuries. The  tragedy is undeniable, and now as we dig deeper, it might be possible the train’s operator could be  facing a crisis of his own.

The question in front of those analyzing this train derailment is whether or not the train’s operator  committed criminal negligence. While criminal negligent homicide cases are generally very difficult to  prove, it may be possible in this case. It seems that at this point, the excessive speed of the train was  the cause of the train crash.

Investigator’s have assessed that the train was traveling at least 82 miles per hour, through a sharp, “deadman’s curve,” which requires a speed of 30 miles per hour.

Should these statements be accurate, the initial legwork of a criminal negligent homicide prosecution can begin to emerge. Under New York law, criminal negligent homicide CAN be charged, in cases where the cause of death is from negligent or reckless conduct.

In general, New York characterizes this as criminal negligent homicide, manslaughter, or “depraved indifference murder,” depending on the particulars of the case. The depraved indifference murder charge generally carries the same penalty as a deliberate/intentional murder.

Most likely, investigators will look for a second form of negligent conduct, in addition to the primary reckless conduct of excessive speed. Examples could include, texting, being drunk, under the influence, or other things that would prevent the operator from fulfilling his duties.

Assuming Mr. Rockefeller is found to be speeding recklessly over the limit, and in addition not paying attention, then there may be grounds for an indictment.

It’s of particular significance that Mr. Rockefeller’s lawyer, admitted that the operator was driving the train while dazed, or “zoned out.” Such an admission could be potentially be a pandora’s box and give the prosecution an opportunity.