The train driver responsible for a London Overground train carrying 50 passengers derailing and crashing after falling asleep at the wheel has been jailed.
Erkan Mehmet, 44, of Middle Street, Waltham Abbey, pleaded guilty at Inner London Crown Court to endangering the safety of the railway and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison on Friday, British Transport Police said.
The incident happened on the morning of Tuesday 12 October 2021. Mehmet was driving an Arriva Rail London train as it arrived on Platform 2 at Enfield Town station in North London. He failed to fully apply the brakes, resulting in the train hitting the buffer stop and the front carriage to derail.
Thankfully, no serious injuries resulted from the accident, although several received minor injuries and were also in shock following the accident.
A report into the crash found that the train had been travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) when it was 69 metres from the buffer stop. After briefly applying the brakes, Mehmet “made no further control actions for just over seven seconds, until he made an emergency brake application just before the train hit the buffer stop. This occurred too late to prevent the collision”, which occurred at 08:21 hrs.
The train rode up on the buffer stop, coming to a rest with its leading wheels about 1 metre in the air.
Mehmet was breathalysed at the scene, which generated a negative reading. However, his urine sample tested positive for cocaine.
British Transport Police (BTP) believe the drug probably entered his system in the 24-hours before the crash, yet in an interview with detectives Mehmet claimed to have never taken drugs.
He claimed his fatigue at the wheel was due to a lack of sleep the night before, although he had not informed his employer of his tiredness when he clocked on to work that day.
Detective Constable Gemma Littlewood said: “Train drivers are entrusted with the safety of every passenger onboard, so it is frankly unthinkable that Mehmet turned up to work in a condition which left him falling asleep at the wheel, putting them all in significant danger.
“It is only through luck that nobody was seriously injured or worse, killed, as a result of his actions that day,” Detective Littlewood added.
“Investigators have worked closely with Arriva Rail London, who fully supported the investigation, to ensure he has been brought before the courts to face justice and while incidents like this are rare, we will continue to relentlessly investigate anyone suspected of putting passengers in danger and hold them to account.”
A driver who derailed an Overground train after falling asleep while driving has been jailed following a BTP investigation.
— British Transport Police (@BTP) July 7, 2023
Unsurprisingly, Mehmet has also lost his job as a train driver following the crash. Paul Hutchings, managing director at Arriva Rail London, said: “We take the safety and security of our customers and colleagues incredibly seriously.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, which exceeds industry standards, and the driver involved was immediately suspended following the incident and subsequently dismissed after returning a positive test result.”