A locomotive engineer is accused of intentionally driving a speeding locomotive off a track at the Port of Los Angeles because he was suspicious about the presence of a Navy hospital ship docked there to help during the coronavirus crisis, federal prosecutors reportedly said in a federal criminal complaint, The Hill reports.
Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, Calif., was charged with one count of a train-wrecking statute, NBC News reported, citing a 10-page criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The charge reportedly carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.
The Tuesday incident was reportedly caught on video and shows the train crashing through a series of barriers before stopping more than 250 yards from the ship.
The train leaked fuel oil, firefighters and a hazmat team took care of the incident without an explosion or injury.
The engineer who was working for Pacific Harbor Line Inc., a train company that handles cargo in the port and connects to major railroad lines was arrested by a California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the crash and captured him as he fled the scene. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Port of Los Angeles Police are now leading the investigation.
Moreno reportedly told authorities, “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
Prosecutors allege that Moreno, who waived his right to speak with an attorney before being interviewed by investigators, admitted in two separate interviews that he intentionally derailed and crashed the train near the Mercy, according to the affidavit.
In the first interview with Los Angeles port police, Moreno reportedly alleged that he “did it” and said he was suspicious of the Mercy — which arrived on Friday to treat non-coronavirus patients in an effort to free up beds at local hospitals while they focus on the surge of patients suffering from COVID-19 — and said the ship was part of a government takeover, NBC reports, citing the affidavit.
In the second interview with FBI agents, Moreno reportedly said he “did it out of the desire to ‘wake people up.’”