Accident Report: Sleep Apnea Cause of Massive Train Wreck

Will sleep apnea cause your death...whether you have sleep apnea or not?

This is an alarming true story

The conductor of this train had obstructive sleep apnea, and was always tired when he went to work.

At 7:30 p.m., the engineer of train 533 of the Canadian National/Illinois Central Railway arrived for work. He trudged up the steps of his locomotive...grabbed the controls...and the train pushed forward down the tracks.

The engineer was tired. He was always tired.

As the night wore on, and the early morning arrived, the train was headed southbound.

Up ahead, a big, bright red stop light on the tracks was glowing through the darkness like a lighthouse. It was signaling for the engineer to stop the train.

One of the major symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. See below for how to control snoring.

But train 533 just kept on going and passed the signal without stopping.

The other man on the crew of train 533 that morning, the conductor, should have alerted the engineer that they had just run a red light.

But the conductor was always tired too and he didn't see the stop light either. Even though the weather was clear and the stop light was as bright as a red sun.

They never saw it coming

The reason train 533 was supposed to stop its southbound journey, was because another locomotive, train 243, had the right of way. And train 243...with its headlights cutting through the darkness...was chugging northbound straight at train 533.

Neither the engineer nor the conductor of train 533 ever braked or even attempted to apply any emergency brakes.

And at 5:54 a.m, those two giant locomotives...each pulling a long, snake-like tail of fully loaded boxcars...slammed head on into each other.

Can sleep apnea cause death?

Both crew members of train 243 were killed. The two crew members of train 533 sustained serious injuries.

There was also a fire. Authorities feared that hazardous materials were leaking. They evacuated 263 homes, 38 businesses, and 2 schools affecting 1,570 people. And there was $1.4 million in damage.

How did sleep apnea cause this tragedy?

Ignorance. Plain and simple.

Those crewmembers of train 243 lost their lives because both the engineer, and the conductor, of train 533 had obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

The chilling conclusion from the official Railroad Accident Report says:

"The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the November 15, 2001, [Railway] accident in Clarkston, Michigan, was the train 533 crewmembers' fatigue...primarily due to the engineer's untreated and the conductor's insufficiently treated obstructive sleep apnea."

Yet, the engineer of train 533 told Safety Board investigators that he had not fallen asleep.

However, the accident report also stated: [another conductor] who had worked with the train 533 engineer told investigators that on several occasions the engineer had fallen asleep while operating a train. He had to be awakened to respond to an upcoming signal or to blow the horn at a grade crossing. Another conductor commented that the engineer "always looked tired."

Now here's the ignorant part

Both the engineer and the conductor of train 533 had been repeatedly warned about their obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In fact, the engineer had been explicitly warned by a throat doctor about the risks of falling asleep while driving either his car or the train. The doctor said a sleep apnea study needed to be performed.

The accident report states: "about a week before the accident, the private physician [for the engineer] explicitly warned the engineer that he should make an appointment at a sleep clinic to undergo further evaluation and to learn about treatment options for possible OSA."

The conductor, on the other hand, had already been using cpap for sleep apnea (continuous positive airway pressure).

But he had never bothered to check with the sleep apnea clinic to see if the sleep apnea machine was working properly. Even though he was still always tired...he hadn't quit snoring...and he felt that the airflow pressure the cpap supplies was not strong enough.

And you know what?

Even if the engineer or conductor had not fallen asleep, one of the sleep apnea side effects is that concentration and judgment can become severely impaired.

Which brings up the scary question...

Can sleep apnea cause problems with pilots of planes?

Put your seat in the upright position and fasten your seat belt because you're not going to like this one.

In February 2008, go! Flight 1002 was supposed to be a short, uneventful flight from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii. Well imagine the passengers' panic when the plane did not descend for landing but kept on flying out to sea.

Why? Both the pilot and co-pilot were asleep! The pilot was later diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

I could go on and on with transportation accidents I've uncovered that severe sleep apnea causes.

Accident reports that state: sleep apnea cause of subway train crash...bus disaster...and cruise ship grounding. Plus, a common and scary report: sleep apnea cause of truckers falling asleep at the wheel.

So let me simply close this article with this...

If you...or someone you love...has any of the symptoms I mention in my article, 23 Dangerous or Unhealthy Sleep Apnea Symptoms, please get help. Especially if excessive daytime sleepiness and severe snoring at night are involved.

This is a worldwide problem that affects millions and millions of people and it is not getting the attention it deserves. And millions of people have no idea they even have sleep apnea.

What tragedy will sleep apnea cause next before people really wake up about this problem? Won't you please help spread the word? Share this article on Facebook with people you know and love. Save a life...maybe your own...or someone you love!

How to control snoring

One of the major symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, yet the odds go up for people who snore loudly or often.

That’s why getting checked by a sleep doctor or dentist who specializes in sleep medicine is so important.

One dentist, who is also a sleep researcher, developed an ingenious product to help with snoring.

It keeps your tongue from falling back in your throat while you sleep, and thus acts as a snore remedy.

This is an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved device for snoring in the United States.

It also can help with mild to moderate sleep apnea and is cleared for that use by Health Canada, the European Commission, and the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

To get help with snoring and sleep apnea, here’s a link to check out the doctor recommended Good Morning Snore Solution.

In addition, be sure to see all my articles below on sleep apnea and snoring. We need to put an end to the phrase “sleep apnea cause of such and such an accident.”

Here are more articles you will find helpful

Could This Be One Possible Approach to a Sleep Apnea Cure?

Can Weight Loss Be A Natural Cure for Sleep Apnea?

Why Getting Help With Snoring Saves Lives (A Sleep Chat Back Issue)

12 Healthy Weight Loss Tips

What Causes Snoring?

7 Sleep Apnea and Weight Loss Tips

Herbs for Sleep Apnea Symptoms: Memory, Concentration, and Learning

More Herbal Sleep Apnea Solutions. 

23 Dangerous Sleep Apnea Symptoms

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