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Amtrak engineer says he miscalculated train’s location in the deadly crash

DUPONT, Wash. -- The engineer and qualifying conductor inside Amtrak Train 501, which derailed on its inaugural run in December, have been interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators say both men were hurt in the derailment and could not speak until last week.

Here's what we learned:

The engineer is a 55-year-old man who was hired by Amtrak in 2004 as a conductor and then promoted to locomotive engineer in 2013.

The qualifying conductor is a 48-year-old man who was hired by Amtrak in 2010 as an assistant conductor and was promoted to conductor in 2011.

Five weeks before the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of the track after completing 7 to 10 observational trips in the locomotive, as well as three trips operating the equipment.

He also told investigators he was aware of the upcoming 30 mph curve, which the train took at about 80 mph.

He told investigators he had planned to brake about a mile from the curve. He said he saw milepost 16 and 17, but didn't see milepost 18 or the 30 mph advance speed sign, which was posted two miles ahead of the curve.

The engineer told investigators once he saw the 30 mph sign at the start of the curve, he applied the brakes. Seconds later, the train derailed as it entered the curve.

The engineer added he didn't feel that having a qualifying conductor in the locomotive with him was a distraction.

During the interview, the qualifying conductor told NTSB that there was little conversation between the two men. Instead, he was looking at paperwork and trying to learn the territory just before the derailment.

The qualifying conductor told investigators, he heard the engineer say or mumble something and then felt the train become airborne.

Both men said they felt rested at the start of their shift.