Spain investigators: Train conductor was on phone

UPDATE: Tuesday – 7/30/2013, 12:11pm ET

MADRID (AP) – A Spanish court says “black box” data recorders show that a train conductor was on the phone and traveling at 95 mph (153 kph), almost twice the speed limit, when the vehicle derailed, killing 79 people.

Investigators say the train had been going as fast as 119 mph (192 kph) shortly before the derailment and that the conductor activated the brakes “seconds before the crash.”

In a statement, the court said Tuesday that the conductor was talking on the phone to an official of national rail company Renfe when the crash happened and apparently was consulting a paper document at the time.

The conductor, Francisco Jose Garzon Amo, has been provisionally charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide.

EARLIER: Friday – 7/26/2013, 6:56am ET

WASHINGTON – A woman from the D.C. region was among those killed in a high-speed train derailment in Spain Wednesday.

Ana-Maria Cordoba of Annandale, Va., was traveling in Spain with her husband and daughter when the train derailed, killing nearly 80 people.

Mike Donohue of the Arlington Diocese, where Cordoba worked as a benefits specialist, confirmed her death Thursday evening.

Cordoba and her family were on their way to visit her son who’d just finished traveling across northern Spain. Cordoba’s husband, Philippe, and daughter, Christina, are in stable condition. Christina will be a senior at Bishop O’Connell High School.

“The staff is very shaken up. She was very well liked, a very regarded colleague. She was a prayerful woman who was very helpful with all of the staff,” Donohue tells WTOP.

Donohue described Cordoba as a kind woman who, in her position at the Arlington Diocese, always made sure women on maternity leave were taken care of.

“Her memory will continue to inspire those who work with her and know her … they are grieving right now and we are focused on praying for them and supporting them as best we can,” says Donohue.

He says the best thing to do right now is pray for Cordoba and her family to be comforted because he knows it “would be very important to her.”

The U.S. State Department says at least five other Americans were hurt in the derailment.

Read more about the derailment here.

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