The driver of the Chicago commuter train that crashed into O'Hare airport and climbed halfway up an escalator, injuring 32 but somehow killing no one, has been fired.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Brittney Haywood, 25, was a relatively new employee but already had at least one "serious safety violation" on her record before the early morning March 24 crash. Haywood told the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, that she "dozed off" while driving. She'd also done this at least once before -- on February 1, she fell asleep and missed a stop. Haywood had also overslept at least one shift.
Haywood was fired after she missed a disciplinary hearing on Thursday, possibly because she figured it was pointless or maybe she just dozed off again.
Haywood's union president blamed Haywood's "very chaotic" schedule for the crash (which you can see a video of here). The Chicago Transit Authority disputes this, saying Haywood worked 55 hours the week before the crash but had been off work for 18 hours before her fateful shift. Haywood filled in for other operators, so she didn't have a regular schedule.
If Haywood did fall asleep, it would have happened quickly -- she had to manually reduce her speed on the approach to the O'Hare station (which she did, fortunately, or else the crash could have been even worse). When the crash occurred, a CTA spokesman said he thought speed was a factor.
The station was closed for a week during the investigation, clean-up and repairs, which are estimated to cost $6 million. CTA has announced new rules to prevent driver fatigue in the future.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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