Train Crash Investigation: New Jersey Transit Engineer Had Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea surgery at the Surgical Arts Centre in Missoula, Montana After a deadly train accident in Hoboken, New Jersey, on September 29, 2016, the engineer conducting the train has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. In a statement released by his attorney and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Thomas Gallagher suffers from the common sleep disorder, though he did not know that he had it at the time of the train crash. Untreated sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness, memory issues, and difficulty concentrating. The crash occurred when the train slammed into a station platform during morning rush hour, killing one woman who was standing on the platform and injuring more than 100 other people who were commuting to work. Bystanders said the train never slowed down as it entered the station, and investigators said that the station and train did not have an automatic braking system. At this point in the investigation, it is not clear whether Gallagher fell asleep at the controls or not.

Sleep Apnea-Related Public Transportation Accidents

This is not the first time that a public transportation driver has been found to suffer from sleep apnea after a fatal crash. The most recent fatal train incident took place in the Bronx in 2013, when an engineer with undiagnosed severe sleep apnea fell asleep on the job, causing the train to derail. Four people were killed and dozens more were injured in that accident. In recent years, other accidents involving trains, buses, planes, and commercial trucks have also involved drivers who either knowingly or unknowingly suffered from obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Regulations For Engineers, Conductors & Drivers

Sleep apnea screening and testing for transportation drivers has been a hot topic in the last decade because of high-profile crashes as well as growing awareness and research involving sleep apnea and the sleep apnea-related accidents. Currently, more and more organizations and private entities are screening their employees for sleep apnea, and federal regulations are in the works for commercial drivers. New Jersey Transit reported that it has a sleep apnea screening program for its conductors, but did not say whether the driver in question was screened or what the results were.

Sleep Apnea Surgery At The Surgical Arts Centre

At the Surgical Arts Centre, we understand how untreated sleep apnea can affect your everyday life, and that it can even be dangerous for those who operate vehicles or have a job that involves the safety of others. We also known that CPAP therapy is not effective for everyone, either because of side effects or because of compliance issues. We offer an innovative bimaxillary advancement surgery that has an efficacy rate of over 95 percent. To learn more about treating your sleep apnea with surgery, please call us today at (406) 549-6600 or fill out our short contact form.
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