I-Team exclusive: Train operator identified in Blue Line derailment

March 28, 2014 (CHICAGO)

CTA Blue Line train derailment photos

The crash has been reported around the world, but the identity of the woman who fell asleep at the controls early Monday morning has never been revealed until now.

The I-Team has been told by law enforcement sources that the operator was 25-year-old Brittney Tysheka Haywood. According to Haywood's posts on social media, she just finished rapid transit operator training in late December.

Not visible in this video that has gone viral, is the train operator. During CTA emergency communications Monday morning she was referred to by her CTA badge number.

Dispatcher: "Paramedics in route to that location, ah, platform person, what's the badge number of the, ah, operator and their run number?" Platform: "I got to get that badge for you right now, 53528 is gonna be that badge."

That number, 53528, is the CTA employee badge number on this motor operator's training certificate from last December, required by the transit agency before an employee can be assigned to run a train. The name on the certificate is Brittney Haywood.

She posted the certificate photo on her Instagram account along with the notation: "It's official. . . turn up this permit for my motor. . .I have two weeks left before I receive my motor license."

According to federal investigators, the driver of the CTA train that crashed had dozed off at the controls during a different CTA run on February 1. That driver was given a written warning according to the transit authority after they say she claimed only to have momentarily "closed her eyes."

Haywood has posted pictures of herself at a CTA stop with the notation: "Come on 9:00 boring platform no action." It was posted when she was working as a rail flagman, which is how these current CTA records still have her listed, at a pay of $13.31 per hour. She was hired about a year ago and attended train motorman school in December.

The transit union president says they will fight for the driver to stay on the job but he would not disclose or comment on the driver's identity.

"This girl is torn to pieces over this. . . I walked away, actually, with a new, totally different amount of respect for this woman. She couldn't lie if she wanted to," said Robert Kelly, president, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308.

After the news conference, Kelly told the I-Team he was unaware of Haywood's most recent arrest, on a misdemeanor gambling charge last September when she was employed by the CTA. That criminal charge dismissed in November, the month before she began motorman training.

Late Friday afternoon, Haywood declined to speak with the I-Team after getting out of a car she drove alone to her South Side home.

The union president maintains that the operator didn't fall asleep. He says she dozed off after working 69 hours the previous week. He says she may have pushed the controls to full throttle when the train hit the end of the line, causing it to actually accelerate up the escalator.

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