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Will Mobile Device Forensic Evidence Play a Role in the Recent Fatal Train Accident in New York?

NewYorkTrainDerailmentInvestigators on the scene issued a drug & alcohol test on the engineer…and grabbed his mobile phone for forensic analysis[1]

The New York Metro-North Railroad commuter train raced into the tight 30 MPH curve at an astonishing 82 MPH, according to NTSB investigators, resulting in a dramatic crash and derailment that killed four and left more than 70 injured.  Early reports suggest train operator error.

What was one of the first things the investigators did at the scene?  Why, secured the engineer’s mobile phone, of course.  We may not know for some time if the forensic analysis of the mobile device will yield relevant electronic evidence, (ie., was the engineer texting or otherwise distracted by his device immediately before the crash?) but the early actions taken by investigators to secure and analyze the phone provides another illustration of the critical value that is being placed on mobile devices as a potential source of Electronically Stored Information (ESI) in a wide array of cases.



[1] The Wall Street Journal.  December 3, 2013.  “Speed Cited in Fatal Crash”

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About Jeff Hartman

Jeff is a 30 year veteran of the corporate security, computer forensics, and eDiscovery community and a co-founder and partner at 4Discovery. 4Discovery is a leading provider of computer incident response and computer forensics services to attorneys, corporate security executives, and the information protection community.