CHICAGO – An operator of a Chicago public-transit train that jumped the tracks and scaled an escalator at one of nation’s busiest airports Monday may have dozed off, the president of a Chicago transit union said.
The woman said she had worked extensive overtime recently and was “extremely tired” at the time of the accident, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly told a news conference.
The derailment happened just before 3 a.m. Monday at the end of the Chicago Transit Authority’s Blue Line at O’Hare International Airport. The timing of the accident helped avoid an enormous disaster, as the underground Blue Line station is usually packed with travelers. More than 30 people were hurt, but none had life-threatening injuries.
Investigators had not drawn any conclusions about the cause of the accident, National Transportation Safety Board official Tim DePaepe said Monday afternoon, but that were looking into whether faulty brakes, signals or human error were factors.
Oil-blocked channel should reopen soon
GALVESTON, Texas – As workers picked quarter-size “tar balls” out of the sand along Galveston Bay on Monday, strong incoming tides kept washing more ashore.
Elsewhere, crews lined up miles of oil booms to keep oil away from the shoreline and bird habitats, two days after a collision in the Houston Ship Channel dumped as many as 170,000 gallons of oil from a barge into the water along the Gulf Coast and shut down one of the nation’s busiest seaports.
With cleanup well underway, the Coast Guard said it hoped to have the channel open to barge traffic as quickly as possible but that more tests were needed to confirm the water and the vessels traveling through the channel were free of oil.
The closure stranded some 80 vessels on both sides of the channel. Traffic through the channel includes ships serving refineries key to American oil production.
Officials believe most of the oil that spilled Saturday is drifting out of the Houston Ship Channel into the Gulf of Mexico, which should limit the impact on bird habitats around Galveston Bay as well as beaches and fisheries important to tourists.
Bodies sighted in submerged plane
DENVER – The bodies of five people were found inside the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed into a cold, murky reservoir in southwestern Colorado over the weekend, authorities said Monday.
The wreckage will have to be brought to shore before the bodies can be removed, Ouray County spokeswoman Marti Whitmore said. The plane is about 60 or 70 feet underwater and upside down in about 3 feet of silt, officials said.
A salvage team is expected to begin raising the wreckage Wednesday.
Authorities haven’t released the identities of the victims but said the flight originated in Gadsden, Ala.
Deadly motel fire blamed on cigarette
POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. – A cigarette discarded in a stuffed chair touched off a fire that killed four people at a New Jersey shore motel last week, authorities said Monday.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the cigarette was discarded carelessly in the designated second-floor smoking area at the Mariner’s Cove Motor Inn.