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Prosecutors face hard choices in NYC train derailment; drowsy driving not always a crime

  • 2e5bb701cfedfa28440f6a706700a617.jpg

    Passengers on a Metro-North train view ongoing repair work near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, where a fatal derailment disrupted service on the Hudson Line of the railroad Sunday, Dec. 1. The line was running at ninety eight percent capacity today, according to Metro-North. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (The Associated Press)

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    FILE - In this file photo taken on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, Metro North Railroad engineer William Rockefeller is wheeled on a stretcher away from the area where the commuter train he was operating derailed in the Bronx borough of New York. The engineer driving the commuter train that went off the rails in New York City last weekend has been suspended without pay according to a spokesman for Metro-North Railroad Thursday Dec. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Robert Stolarik, File) (The Associated Press)

  • 4f628b72cecbf528440f6a7067007b3d.jpg

    Metro-North customers stand by as a passenger train pulls into the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, a few hundred feet from where a fatal derailment disrupted service on the Hudson Line of the railroad Sunday, Dec. 1. The line was running at ninety eight percent capacity tWednesday, according to Metro-North. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (The Associated Press)

  • d965638acecbf528440f6a706700ba59.jpg

    A Metro-North passenger train that is pushed by a locomotive rolls towards the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, just passing the area where a fatal derailment disrupted service on the Hudson Line of the railroad Sunday, Dec. 1. The line was running at ninety eight percent capacity Wednesday, according to Metro-North. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (The Associated Press)

  • 567fde95ced2f528440f6a7067001d74.jpg

    A Metro-North passenger train that is pushed by a locomotive rolls through the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx borough of New York Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, not far from the area where a fatal derailment disrupted service on the Hudson Line of the railroad Sunday, Dec. 1. The line was running at ninety eight percent capacity today, according to Metro-North. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (The Associated Press)

New York City's Metro-North Railroad is already getting hit with multimillion-dollar civil claims over a deadly commuter train derailment, but legal experts say prosecutors will face tough choices when deciding whether to bring criminal charges against the engineer.

Train operator William Rockefeller told investigators he fell into a daze at the controls before Sunday's wreck.

Legal experts say drowsy driving isn't necessarily a crime.

It can be tough to prosecute drivers who fall asleep at the wheel unless there are extra factors in play, such as drug use or brazen disregard for passenger safety.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson has declined to comment publicly.

An attorney representing passengers on the derailed train says his clients want to hold Metro-North accountable for not installing safety equipment that could have prevented the accident.

Metro-North says it's a difficult and expensive process.

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