This update in the New York Daily News about the fatal Metro-North derailment near Spuyten Duyvil reveals in passing a local angle on the story. Turns out the engineer of the train, William Rockefeller, is a Columbia County resident:
There was no sign of Rockefeller at his home in Germantown, N.Y. Neighbors described the engineer as a good-natured “motorhead” who was always tinkering with his white Corvette or riding motorcycles with his wife.
“Very nice people, always straight-up, nothing shady about them,” 64-year-old Russell Barth said of his neighbors. “I never saw him out of sorts.”
Rockefeller “doesn't seem like a reckless guy,” Barth added. “No loud parties, no nothing. Just a nice person.”
The train was traveling at a reported 82 mph as it entered the treacherous curve. The speed limit in the stretch leading up to the curve is 70 mph, and 30 mph around it. Rockefeller has been quoted as saying that the brakes failed.
Rockefeller is a fairly old and common name in the Germantown/Livingston area, including some of “those” Rockefellers.
UPDATE: A New York Times piece sheds some light on the early investigation into the cause of the accident, which includes the possibility that the driver dozed off.