Charges against LIRR engineer, passenger

August 5, 2009 3:33:14 PM PDT
Charges have been filed against a Long Island Rail Road engineer and the passenger he allegedly allowed to drive the train. While the MTA calls it an anomaly it's a reminder of the risk you take when you're the one just going for the ride.

A month after it happened a passenger and the conductor are being held accountable.

A 47-year-old NYC court stenographer who surrendered to police on charges alleging he took over a rush hour Long Island railroad train, for the fun of it with the blessing of the conductor Ron Cabrera, who's also facing charges.

"It's as if you're going to get medical treatment and being treated by a civilian. Common sense tells you, you have the training that you do," said District Attorney Kathleen rice.

The ride in question is the 6:45 a.m. train from Port Jefferson to Hunters Point Queens .

Investigators say William Kutsch took control of the train at the Hicksville stop, driving a massive double-decker train that doesn't operate on autopilot for 24 miles.

Kutsch doesn't have an engineers license or any formal training-which takes a year by law.

Passengers cringed thinking about the risks involved in going along for the ride.

"You're very trusting getting on a train or airplane whatever it is with the person in charge but if you can't trust that person what do you do," said one passenger.

It was uneasy passengers who alerted police to the incident, and the LIRR immediately suspended the 20 year veteran conductor without pay while police looked for the passenger described by other riders.

The LIRR sent Eyewitness News a statement saying "The alleged actions of this one employee do not represent the efforts of our engineers at large."

Both men face a year in jail and pleaded not guilty.

The conductors attorney says his client never left the controls and is innocent.

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