Spanish train crash driver leaves hospital, remains in custody

A passenger train drives past the site of a train crash, with the train engine (R) derailed from the track, in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain. Credit: Reuters
A passenger train drives past the site of a train crash, with the train engine (R) derailed from the track, in Santiago de Compostela, northwestern Spain.
Credit: Reuters

The driver of a Spanish train that derailed at high speed killing 78 people was released from hospital on Saturday, but he remained in police custody ahead of an appearance before a judge to answer questions about what went wrong.

Francisco Garzon, 52, was treated for a head injury he sustained in Wednesday’s crash. He declined to give a statement to police on Friday.

“He … has been arrested by the police on charges of alleged reckless homicide,” Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said at the police headquarters of Santiago de Compostela, the northwestern city where the crash occurred.

Police had already said Garzon, who has been under arrest since Thursday, was suspected of “recklessness” in driving the train much too fast through a curve on the outskirts of Santiago.

Survivors and families of victims from Spain’s deadliest train crash in decades were desperate for answers three days after the eight-carriage, high-speed train derailed on a sharp bend, slamming into a concrete wall.

Several bodies were still unidentified and dozens of injured were in hospital in serious condition.

“We have to investigate what happened, because there are lots of versions,” said Ricardo Jimenez, whose sister-in-law was killed in the crash and whose body was not identified until late on Friday.

“This can’t go unpunished, because those were people on the train, not animals, and other people shouldn’t have to pay because one person makes a mistake,” he told Reuters.

Officials are looking into whether the accident was the result of human error or a problem with the train, the track or the security system that controls speed on the railway.

Esther Dominguez, a 23-year-old student from Madrid who survived the accident, told Reuters: “I have really mixed feelings. On the one hand I feel fortunate to have come out of it okay, it’s a miracle, but I’m really sad about the people who didn’t come out as well and are suffering now.

“After something so huge you want to know why, what happened, so that it doesn’t happen again. They need to get to the bottom of it and find out who was responsible.”

The government has said a clearer picture would emerge from two official investigations, one judicial and one governmental, but there was growing pressure for assurances that Spain’s rail network was safe.

“It is essential that we get guarantees about what the public believed was a model railway system but which suddenly turns out to have worrying security flaws,” left-leaning newspaper El Pais said in an editorial.

CITY OF PILGRIMS

Santiago was meant to be celebrating the yearly festival of St. James this week. Thousands of Christian pilgrims arrived after walking the famous Camino de Santiago trail over the Pyrenees, or from Portugal.

Festivities were canceled after the accident – which happened on the eve of St. James day. Although many were trying to return to normal life, the mood in the city was subdued.

“It’s as though people have lost their strength. It touches you deep inside,” said Ofelia Garcia, who arrived in Santiago on Monday with her partner after they walked the pilgrimage trail from Portugal.

Although each family will bury their dead separately, the region of Galicia – where Santiago is the capital – was preparing an official memorial for the victims on Monday.

Mourners placed candles at the entrance to the centuries-old cathedral and strung blue hydrangeas, picked from local gardens, through the bars of the gates.

Pilgrims left traditional walking sticks near the cathedral gates with hand-written notes in support of the victims and their families.

One read: “So that your journey does not end here.”

“We were about to open a bottle of wine when we started to hear sirens,” said 30-year-old American tourist Rebecca Elias.

“At first we thought it was fireworks for the festivities and then we found out about the accident, so we put the wine away and said a prayer.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.