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YONKERS, N.Y. — An engineer whose speeding commuter train ran off the rails along a curve, killing four people, experienced a hypnotic-like daze and nodded at the controls before he suddenly realized something was wrong and hit the brakes, a lawyer said as a federal regulator called for the railroad to make immediate safety improvements.
William Rockefeller, who was operating the Metro-North Railroad train, experienced a nod or ‘‘a daze,’’ almost like road fatigue or the phenomenon sometimes called highway hypnosis, said attorney Jeffrey Chartier, who accompanied the engineer to his interview with National Transportation Safety Board investigators Tuesday. Chartier couldn’t say how long the spell lasted.
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