The driver of the train that derailed in Galicia on Wednesday night killing 78 people, is reported to have said in the aftermath of the disaster that he wanted to end his life. “I’ve fucked up, I want to die,” he apparently told rescue workers as they pulled bodies from the wreckage that littered the track.
Police yesterday formally detained Francisco José Garzon, who was reported last night to be refusing to answer their questions. Officers also took possession of the train’s black box recorder as they attempt establish the cause of the crash. The train was travelling significantly faster than the 50mph limit on the curved section of the track, and one witness told the Associated Press yesterday that a monitor inside one of the carriages suggested it had hit 120mph just seconds before disaster struck.
Mr Garzón, 52, has been in hospital since the crash under police guard, although his injuries are minor. The investigating judge was too busy to question him on Thursday because he was overwhelmed with identifying victims. It was thought today that he would question Mr Garzón in his hospital bed, but it was later decided to wait until he was able to attend court. Under Spanish law the judge, from the Third District Court in Santiago de Compostela, has to first decide whether there is a case before recommending criminal charges and ordering a full trial, a process which can take months or years.
Police said they had yet to identify six victims and forensics were still seeking additional proof to put names to the rest, while medical officials said 32 people were still critical, including three children. The death toll, which had been put at “at least 80” on Thursday evening, was revised downwards as forensic scientists matched body parts at the makeshift morgue.
One of Mr Garzón’s colleagues defended him after reports of photos he had posted on Facebook apparently driving a train at 200kph (125mph). Francisco Cárdenas said Mr Garzón had worked on slow freight services before moving to intercity routes, which often reach speeds of 250kph.
“If he was going at 200, it was on a stretch of track designed for 200,” Mr Cárdenas told state television.