The New Jersey Transit engineer who was operating a commuter train that crashed in Hoboken Terminal in 2016, killing one woman on the platform and injuring 108 others, will get his job back on “a one-time, last chance basis” after winning an appeal, a report said Thursday.
Thomas Gallagher, who was suspended and subsequently fired in 2018 after an investigation, won his arbitration case on Aug. 28 and was set to return to work operating trains that do not carry passengers, NJ.com reported.
“To be clear, the claimant’s return to work is on a one-time, last chance basis, contingent upon his compliance with the terms and conditions of this award,” the board said in a decision obtained by the outlet.
Gallagher had blacked out from an undiagnosed sleep apnea condition while helming the train during the morning commute on Sept. 29, 2016. The train was traveling at twice the posted speed when it ran off the end of its track and smashed through a concrete-and-steel bumper as it pulled into the station.
The victim, 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, of Hoboken, was killed by falling debris.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation ruled in 2018 that Gallagher’s undiagnosed condition had caused the crash, noting he had passed a health screening just three months prior to the accident.
The arbitration board found the undiagnosed sleep apnea a mitigating factor, according to the outlet.
Whether Gallagher would be allowed to operate trains carrying passengers was left up to NJ Transit.
“While NJ Transit opposed the reinstatement of Mr. Gallagher, we are required to comply with the legal decision made by the arbitrator. Under provisions clearly defined in that decision, NJ Transit can and will restrict his duty to non-passenger trains,” said spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
“The decision lays out rigorous testing and compliance that Mr. Gallagher must adhere to including training and re-certification for operating a locomotive as well as strict medical oversight,” she added.
Gallagher won’t receive back pay for the time he was suspended, according to NJ.com.