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Amtrak engineer in fatal wreck may have been derived, official says

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Researchers are studying many factors in train derailment

Claudia Cowan reports on the NTSB probe into the speeding Amtrak train.

Federal investigators are looking into whether the Amtrak engineer driving a train that derailed and killed three people Monday morning in the state of Washington was distracted by an employee-in-training, an official told The Associated Press.

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Rail researcher: Deadly derailment could have been avoided

Researchers, according to the official, want to determine whether the engineer lost “situational awareness” during the operation of the train during the first trip by a second person who was allegedly in the train.

The train was traveling at 80 km / h in a 30 km / h zone on a new line early Monday in DuPont when it derailed and fell on Interstate 5, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said late Monday, citing data recorder data.

Of the train 85 passengers, three people were killed and more than 70 others were injured in the derailment.

The researchers at this point have not said what the cause of the derailment, and the NTSB said it was too early to determine why the locomotive was in motion at such high speed.

Federal researchers are working to determine whether the Amtrak engineer operating the train that derailed in Washington Monday morning, was distracted by a second person in the train.

(Daniella Fenelon via AP)

The unidentified train engineer bleeding from the head after the derailment and his eyes were swollen shut, to the radio broadcasts of a member of the crew. The transmissions mentioned a second person in the front of the train, which was also hurt.

In the previous transportation disasters, researchers have looked at whether the driver was distracted or incapacitated.

More about the latest Amtrak derailment…

  • Amtrak train derailment victims identified as a transit worker, rail-lawyer

  • Commuters rush to the Amtrak train wreck to help the survivors

  • Local Washington mayor feared deadly accidents weeks before the Amtrak derailment

Officials said that the positive train control technology that will automatically stop or slow a speeding train not in use on the piece of track where the derailment happened, because it was not completed.

Components of positive train control and track sensors previously installed, but was not scheduled to be completed until the spring, according to officials.

However, an NTSB member said, it is still too early to say whether positive train control would have prevented the accident.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah cover breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

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