One of the drivers of the train that derailed on the evening of Wednesday in Santiago de Compostela has been formally detained "for negligence" and is under police guard in the hospital.
Authorities launched two investigations into the conduct of Francisco José Garzón Amo, one judicial and the other administrative.
"The judge has asked the police to take his statement" said the spokeswoman for the high court of justice of Galicia, the region of northwest Spain where the train disaster occurred. She added that Amo "will be assisted by a lawyer" during the interrogation, and later testify before the judge.
Thirty Years Of Experience
The train derailment was most likely caused by excessive speed. According to the newspaper El Pais, Almo confessed in a radio communication with the station that he took the dangerous curve at the entrance of the city, where the accident occurred, at 190 kph (about 119 mph) when the limit is set at 80 kph (about 50 mph). The first examination of the train's black box data has confirmed this information, says La Voz de Galicia.
According to El Pais, an automatic alert signal warned the driver he was going too fast. The black box data reveals he pressed the button to confirm he had received the message. A final cry was heard on the sound recording from the driver's cabin: "I'm going too fast, I'm going too fast, what can I do?"
The possibility that technical problems caused the accident has not been ruled out, but is losing credibility. The train "had no operational problems" and had passed a technical inspection that morning, said the president of the state-owned rail company Renfe on Thursday. The black box data confirms this statement, according to La Voz de Galicia.
The train driver, Francisco José Garzón Amo, 52 years old, had 30 years of professional experience at Renfe, the state-owned Spanish railway, according to its president, Julio Gomez-Pomar Rodriguez. He was an assistant driver since 2000 and became a driver in 2003, the president said to the radio station Cope on Thursday.
The Spanish Francesco Schettino?
According to El Pais, citing sources close to the investigation, the driver stated before the derailment he was driving at 190 kph; he then said he was going 200 kph and finally, entering the curve where the accident occurred, he repeated that his speed was 190 kph.
Testifying to the police on Friday, Francisco José Garzón Amo could become the Spanish Francesco Schettino.
Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship whose shipwreck caused 32 deaths in January 2012, is one of the criticized men in Italy.
A photo spotted by the Spanish newspaper ABC on the Amo's Facebook page could indeed be held against him. Published in March 2012, the picture shows the speedometer of a train hitting 200 kph. "I'm at the limit, I can't go faster or they'll fine me." wrote Francisco José Garzón Amo. "What a pleasure it would be to go alongside the Guardia Civil and then pass them to set off the radar! What a fine it would be for Renfe."
"I hope there aren't any dead because I will have them on my conscience," the driver said later from his cabin shortly after the disaster, before its magnitude was known. "We're only human! We're only human!", he said, also according to the newspaper, still trapped inside the cab just after the accident.
This post was translated from French and originally appeared on HuffPost France.