TODAY   |  December 03, 2013

Officials: Train that derailed was going 82 mph

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board say that information reviewed from one of the black boxes obtained from a Metro North train that derailed Sunday morning in New York, killing four people, was traveling at 82 mph before it derailed. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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>> developments in the investigation of the deadly commuter train derailment here in new york as it was happening. to turn the sharp turn the train was going nearly three times the posted speed limit . tom costello has more.

>> with the wreckage of sunday's crash now removed from the tracks and rail commuters returning to their trains again this morning, the news from the ntsb is all the more settling. a veteran engineer was at the controls as his train hit 82 miles per hour going into a dangerous curve. power to the engine cut back to idle six seconds before the train came to a halt. at 5 seconds the brake as plied. by then it was too late. seven cars and the locomotive were off the rails coming to rest inches from the harlem river .

>> so it was only six seconds before everything came to a stop that the throttle went to idle.

>> so this was late in the game?

>> very late in the game.

>> reporter: trains are supposed to slow from 70 down to 30 before taking the turn. experts say any circumstances, 82 miles per hour is highly dangerous.

>> for a train to be going 82 miles per hour around that curve is just a frightening thought.

>> the question this morning, what happened? did the train malfunction? is ntsb says there's no evidence that the brakes had failed or did the engineer, 46-year-old william rockefeller fail to notice his speed and the curve ahead? he had driven this route many times before. rockefeller injured in the crash but talking to investigators has already said he applied the brakes but they didn't work. he is described as distraught over the loss of life. the ntsb is examining his cell phone for evidence it was a distraction.

>> they're going to look at whether he was paying attention to the task at hand. whether he was being diverted by other things. whether it's social media or something he saw out the window that distracted him.

>> or was there a mechanical failure? this morning more questions than answers.

>> reporter: so many questions still out there with this investigation.