Special Report: Lead poisoning lurks in scores of New York areas

Special Report: Lead poisoning lurks in scores of New York areas

By Joshua Schneyer and M.B. Pell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – In public health circles, New York City is known for its long war on lead poisoning.

The city outlawed residential lead paint in 1960, 18 years before a national ban. A 2004 housing law targeted “elimination” of childhood lead poisoning within six years. The city offers free lead testing in housing, vows to fix hazards and bill landlords when necessary, and has seen childhood exposure rates decline year after year.

Yet inspectors didn’t visit the Brooklyn apartment where Barbara Ellis lived until after her twin daughters tested high for lead three years in a row, she said. They found peeling lead paint on doors and windows. The girls required speech and occupational therapy for their developmental delays, common among lead-exposed children.

“Their words and speech are still a little slurred,” Ellis, a subway conductor, said of daughters Kaitlyn and Chasity, now 6. Tired of feuding with their landlord, they found new lodging in Harlem.

The family’s plight is not uncommon.

Areas of high lead exposure risk remain throughout America’s largest and richest city, a Reuters exploration of blood testing data found. In the first examination of its kind, reporters obtained New York childhood blood testing data down to the census tract level – neighborhood areas with some 4,000 residents apiece. In densely populated New York, a tract often covers several square blocks.

While poisoning has nearly been eliminated in many neighborhoods, Reuters identified 69 New York City census tracts where at least 10 percent of small children screened over an 11-year period, from 2005 to 2015, had elevated lead levels.

That is twice the rate found across Flint, Michigan, during the peak of its notorious water contamination crisis in 2014 and 2015, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 5 percent of children’s tests were high.

The risk areas spanned New York neighborhoods and demographic groups. Peeling old paint is a conspicuous hazard, but reporters tracked other perils hiding in plain sight, from leaded soil and water, to dangerous toys, cosmetics and health supplements.

In 2015, 5,400 city children tested with an elevated blood lead level, 5 micrograms per deciliter or higher, New York’s most recent annual report on lead poisoning showed. More than 800 had levels at least twice that high.

Previously undisclosed data explored by Reuters offers a hyper-local look at neighborhood areas where the city has fallen short of its eradication goal.

“New York’s prevention program is renowned, so the fact it still has pockets like these shows how challenging this issue is on a national scale,” said Patrick MacRoy, a former director of Chicago’s lead poisoning prevention program.

Reuters found:

• A 2004 housing law co-sponsored by Bill de Blasio, now the mayor, targeted scofflaw landlords. But the city isn’t policing two key provisions that require landlords to find and fix hazards, sometimes waiting until children get poisoned before taking action.

• The areas where the most children tested high are in Brooklyn, including neighborhoods with historic brownstones and surging real estate values, where construction and renovation can unleash the toxin. The worst spot – with recent rates nearly triple Flint’s – was in a Hasidic Jewish area with the city’s highest concentration of small children.

• An affluent area near Riverside Park in Manhattan’s Upper West Side has had rates comparable to Flint’s.

• Reporters were able to buy dangerous leaded products in city shops, including children’s jewelry. One item, a cosmetic marketed for use around children’s eyes, tested with levels 4,700 times the U.S. safety standard. It was labeled lead-free.

• Reuters purchased other items subject to New York lead warnings through online giants Amazon and EBay, which later pulled the items from their websites.

• Soil testing in Brooklyn backyards and a park detected lead levels comparable to some sites designated under the federal Superfund toxic-cleanup program.

While exposure rates have dropped citywide – by up to 86 percent since 2005 – the number of children meeting New York’s criteria for lead poisoning, twice the CDC’s elevated threshold, barely budged between 2012 and 2015.

“Unfortunately, nationally and locally, we are beginning to see signs there is a leveling off in what was once a steep downward trend,” said Rebecca Morley, a housing expert who co-authored a recent report calling for more aggressive national lead abatement policies.

In a statement, City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie said comparisons between New York and Flint are “alarmist and inaccurate,” given the city’s sharp declines in lead poisoning and aggressive prevention efforts.

But Morley, while crediting the city’s progress, said the data show “extreme pockets of poisoning remain.”

New York is just one of hundreds of American communities struggling with poisoning. In a two-year investigation, Reuters has now documented 3,810 census tracts or zip code areas across 34 U.S. states where recent high childhood lead test rates have been double those found in Flint.

There’s no safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Exposure is linked to brain damage, lower IQ, behavioral disorders, and lifelong health impacts.

Six-year-old twins Kaitlyn and Chasity Ellis, who were exposed to lead in a Brooklyn apartment, pose with their mother Barbara Ellis (R) and grandfather Ruden Ellis in a park in Harlem - where the family now lives - in New York City, U.S. September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Schneyer

Six-year-old twins Kaitlyn and Chasity Ellis, who were exposed to lead in a Brooklyn apartment, pose with their mother Barbara Ellis (R) and grandfather Ruden Ellis in a park in Harlem – where the family now lives – in New York City, U.S. September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Schneyer

A QUESTION OF ENFORCEMENT

Seventy percent of New York’s housing stock was built in the 1950s or earlier, when lead was still common in paint. A toddler can be poisoned by swallowing a dime-sized flake of lead paint, or by ingesting paint dust.

“Housing is a main way that young kids get poisoned,” said Deborah Nagin, director of the city’s lead poisoning prevention program. “It’s very important that lead paint hazards, when we identify them, don’t sit around.”

Nagin’s health department division works closely with New York’s Housing and Preservation Department, HPD, whose 400 inspectors are trained to detect lead perils.

A 2004 housing code, Local Law 1, championed by then City Council member de Blasio, gave HPD broad authority to cite landlords for paint hazards and get them fixed quickly. Since then HPD has issued more than 230,000 lead paint violations to landlords.

But its inspectors aren’t able to visit all older housing in a city with more than 2 million tenant-occupied units. And the law’s explicit goal – elimination of poisoning – remains elusive seven years past its 2010 target date.

Among the reasons: There is little or no city enforcement of two provisions of the law, designed to make private landlords responsible for preventing poisoning.

One requires landlords to conduct annual lead paint inspections in pre-1960 housing units where small children live, fix hazards and keep records. The other requires them to “permanently seal or remove” lead paint from spots like windows and door-frames – so-called friction surfaces, where paint often breaks down – before new tenants move in.

Reporters reviewed the past 12 years of HPD violation records and found the agency hasn’t cited a single landlord for failure to conduct the annual inspections. Only one was cited for failure to remediate friction surfaces between tenants, in 2010.

“If the city’s not going to nail a few people for failing to do this, then no one is going to pay attention to these requirements,” said Matthew Chachere, a lawyer with anti-poverty group Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, who helped draft the 2004 law.

Mayor de Blasio declined comment.

Rafael Cestero, a former HPD commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the measures would be hard to enforce. “There has to be some realism in what we expect a government agency to actually do,” Cestero said. The department focuses on paint violations its own inspectors find, he said, often in response to tenant complaints.

CONEY ISLAND KIDS

In a statement, City Hall called its complaint-based enforcement system “highly effective” at reducing poisoning.

Yet it doesn’t always work, leaving some families to fend for themselves until a child gets poisoned, Reuters found.

In a 116-year-old building in Coney Island, Brooklyn, unit 2R’s grimy walls are marked with “LEAD PAINT” stamps next to two children’s beds, where inspectors recently found the toxin.

HPD records show the cramped apartment has 163 outstanding housing code violations.

During a reporter’s recent visit, the power was out and the building’s common areas were scattered with rodent droppings. In an apartment, a gas kitchen oven was jerry-rigged to provide heat.

Back in 2015, when Natalia Rollins moved here from a homeless shelter, the mother of two felt lucky. A city-sponsored voucher program, CITYFEPS, helped place her in a $1,515-a-month apartment and covered much of the rent.

Rollins, 25, soon grew scared for her baby boys. There was peeling old paint, a ceiling cave-in, roach, rodent and bee infestations, buckling floorboards, a broken window.

“I hated living in shelters, but nobody should have to live like this either,” said Rollins, a daycare worker. “The landlord would just ignore my calls. When you’re on a voucher you’re treated differently.”

Rollins says she reported housing concerns through the city’s 311 hotline dozens of times. Inspectors visited, but didn’t initially test for lead.

Two months ago her son Noah, 2, was diagnosed with lead poisoning. After receiving his test result, the city Health Department quickly swooped in and found the apartment rife with paint hazards.

Noah’s language is developing, but Natalia worries about his acute sensitivity to noises and his pica behavior, a tendency to eat non-food items. Natalia, Noah and older brother Randy, who is autistic, are now staying in a Bronx safe house for lead poisoning victims operated by Montefiore Hospital.

Ervin Johnson, Rollins’ Coney Island landlord, said the apartment was in “excellent condition” when she moved in. “If her kid got exposed to lead, it probably came from somewhere else,” he said.

But the city says most poisoned children are exposed at home, and records show Johnson’s building has been on the citywide list of the 200 “most distressed” multi-unit dwellings since 2007. “This landlord has repeatedly failed their duty to safeguard our youngest New Yorkers,” the city said.

Lapeyrolerie said the city is now pressing Johnson to “immediately” address the building’s violations and working to find Rollins another apartment.

Lapses in public housing have also come to light. For years, the city’s public housing authority, NYCHA, failed to conduct required annual lead inspections in older public housing, an ongoing federal investigation found.

“We can and must do better,” NYCHA spokeswoman Ilana Maier said.

Citywide, the rate of screened children showing a high blood test in 2015 was 1.7 percent, below the CDC’s estimated national average of 2.5 percent.

Yet rates can vary wildly. A tract on the well-to-do Upper West Side of Manhattan – adjacent to Riverside Park between 105th and 109th Streets – had rates similar to Flint’s even in recent years. The area features grand old buildings and multi-million dollar apartments, where renovations could put children at risk if lead safety practices aren’t followed.

WILLIAMSBURG WOES

Decades ago, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was a low-rent and largely industrial area. Today, its spacious lofts and privileged perch across from downtown Manhattan attract the well-heeled.

Working-class residents remain, too, including thousands of Hasidic Jews from the Satmar sect, who have settled in the neighborhood’s southern zone since World War II. With their distinctive dress and traditions, the Hasidim’s orthodox lifestyle strikes a contrast to the hipster glitz encroaching nearby.

Hasidic Williamsburg suffers alarming rates of childhood lead poisoning, ranking as the riskiest spot Reuters found citywide.

Across three southern Williamsburg census tracts, as many as 2,400 children tested at or above the CDC’s current elevated lead threshold between 2005 and 2015. In one, 21 percent of children tested during this period had high lead levels. Rates in the most recent years were lower, but still above Flint’s.

On Lee Avenue, boys wearing black hats and coats stream out of yeshivas, while women shop in kosher markets and kibitz in Yiddish in front of old brownstones, many built around 1900.

“When I saw the numbers I freaked out,” said Rabbi David Niederman, head of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg. “The concentration of old housing and the number of children in them are big factors.”

In Hasidic Williamsburg, around 25 percent of the population is age five or younger, compared to about 6 percent citywide.

In recent years, city health workers homed in on the poisoning cluster. UJO and other groups helped health officials conduct outreach, distributing lead awareness pamphlets in Yiddish, urging clinics to boost screening, and holding meetings for residents and landlords.

As recently as 2015, one area tract had a rate of 13 percent, the highest in the city. It’s too early to tell whether rates have since dropped.

DANGERS ON STORE SHELVES

Newly mobile toddlers are the most common lead victims, but school-aged kids and adults are also vulnerable.

Recent testing at the city’s public schools showed more than 80 percent had at least one water outlet with lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of 15 parts per billion. New York public radio station WNYC mapped those results. Faucets that test high are shut off pending repairs, but leaded water lines remain common in New York buildings.

Consumer products are another concern. This year, lead safety advocate Tamara Rubin documented several varieties of the wildly popular fidget spinner toy that contained lead.

And in New York’s popular bodegas, other dangerously leaded products can be found on shelves.

Reporters bought several products that can be used by children or pregnant women from area shops, ordered others from online vendors, and sent 13 items for testing at an accredited laboratory. Six had lead levels exceeding consumer product safety standards.

In Jackson Heights, Queens, a vibrant cauldron of the city’s diverse immigrant populations, scores of small shops sell toy jewelry.

Two items Reuters had tested, a butterfly hairpiece and a glittery earring and beret set, each had lead content above the 100 parts per million U.S. safety standard for toys. Both were Chinese imports. One was labeled “lead-safe.”

The city health department sometimes conducts sweeps, seizing dangerous products or ordering shops to destroy them. It recently found Mexican lead-glazed pottery and issued a public advisory.

But some shopkeepers aren’t aware of the warnings, or ignore them.

In the southern section of Brooklyn’s Ditmas Park area, more than 500 children tested high for lead from 2005 through 2015. Many families in the area emigrated from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

In New York, children of South Asian descent are found to have especially high blood lead levels more often than other children. Sometimes, the poisoning can be linked to imported products.

A string of bright blue, red and gold tubes containing eyeliner – known as ‘surma,’ ‘kajal’ or ‘kohl’ – can be found in many Ditmas Park shops. The cosmetic is sometimes applied to children and touted to improve eye health.

Two varieties reporters bought, both marked lead-free, had unsafe lead levels.

The label for Hashmi Surmi Special liquid, made in Pakistan, says it contains “0.00 percent” lead. Lab testing showed 4.7 percent lead, or 4,700 times the Food and Drug Administration safety standard for cosmetics.

The Hashmi brand website says its surma eyeliner should be used by little ones “right from their childhood to prevent stress on sight.”

Manufacturer A.Q. & Co acknowledged the product contains a lead compound, but said it’s safe when “used externally.”

Health departments disagree. Across the United States, several have linked use of surma to childhood poisoning cases.

New York City has warned against using or selling these products, and FDA guidance says they are illegal to import.

When reporters returned to the Bisillah Grocery Store where they bought the Hashmi eyeliner, a shopkeeper said he’d stopped sales months ago, after a customer had an “allergic reaction.” Reminded of a far more recent sale to a reporter, he said, “You must have bought one of the last bottles.”

The Hashmi eyeliner was still available in several other shops nearby.

Other products U.S. health departments have warned about were easy to find online for delivery to New York City doorsteps.

Reuters purchased leaded Indian Ayurvedic medicines from vendors on Ebay and Amazon.

One of them, Ovarin, is touted to improve women’s reproductive health. It was shipped from a vendor in India via Amazon.com Marketplace. “A Boon to the Womanhood,” its online marketing said. Lab testing showed it contains enough lead to potentially harm mother and unborn child when taken at the suggested dosage.

Its maker, Ban Lab, didn’t respond to interview requests.

Amazon.com removed the product from its website after hearing from Reuters that it was subject to health warnings.

Another product, Zandu brand Maha Yograj Guggul, indicated for joint pain and other ailments, was purchased from a vendor in New Jersey via Ebay.com and tested high for lead.

Manufacturer Emami Group acknowledged the product contains lead, as required by Indian regulations for certain Ayurvedic formulas. The product should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision, its packaging says.

Ebay said it would prohibit sale of the item. Amazon and Ebay said they continually monitor products for safety concerns.

OVERHEAD, UNDERFOOT

In Queens, the city subway’s Number 7 train rumbles overhead on an elevated track.

Last year, a painters trade union said it discovered that lead paint has been raining down on bustling Queens neighborhoods from the subway’s century-old structures. A Brooklyn federal judge set a hearing for this December to consider whether to declare a public health emergency.

Poisoning risks also lurk underfoot in some city areas, where past industrial or vehicle emissions, trash incineration, and runoff from buildings with old paint have tainted the soil.

On a late summer evening, reporters conducted soil testing with help from researchers along a path in McCarren Park, a popular family destination in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Columbia University Environmental Sciences graduate student Franziska Landes has been testing soil around the former industrial neighborhood for months. Among the scores of backyards Landes has tested, most have had at least one reading above the EPA’s 400 parts per million lead safety threshold for areas where children play.

Aiming a futuristic-looking XRF analyzer gun into the soil, Landes quickly found one spot, along a jogging path, whose reading was five times that level.

“Wow, that’s a high one,” Landes said. Several other readings on the same path were lower, but still above the EPA threshold.

Nagin, director of New York’s lead-poisoning program, said her department hasn’t usually prioritized soil risks in an urban environment where children’s access to yards is limited. She recently met with Columbia researchers and is taking a deeper look.

Soil researcher Joshua Cheng, a professor at Brooklyn College, said more vigilance is needed. Residents in affected areas should avoid tracking dirt into homes, wash children’s hands often, and place clean topsoil in spots testing high, he said.

“The lead levels found in Brooklyn backyards are often similar to areas where there has been past lead smelting activity,” Cheng said. “They’re comparable to Superfund sites.”

Sarah DuFord, a mother of two, was among the Greenpoint residents who invited reporters into her backyard to test.

One reading was below the EPA threshold, but others were around four times that level.

“This confirms my fears,” she said. Her next step: screening her 2-year-old for lead.

Then and Now – Childhood lead poisoning in New York: http://tmsnrt.rs/2mojaEm

(Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Uzbek man charged in New York attack said he ‘felt good’ about what he did

People gather for a candlelight vigil for victims of the pickup truck attack at Foley Square in New York City, U.S., November 1, 2017

By Gina Cherelus and Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Uzbek immigrant accused of plowing a truck down a New York City bike path, killing eight people, told investigators he had been inspired by watching Islamic State videos and began planning the attack a year ago, according to a criminal complaint filed against him on Wednesday.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who was hospitalized after he was shot by a police officer and arrested, confessed to authorities that he made a trial run with a rental truck on Oct. 22 to practice turning the vehicle and “stated that he felt good about what he had done” after the attack, the complaint said.

The 10-page charging document said Saipov waived his rights to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination in agreeing to speak to investigators without an attorney present from his bed at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.

In the course of that interview, the complaint said, Saipov told investigators he chose Halloween for the attack because he believed more people would be on the streets and said he had originally planned to strike the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the bike path on the western edge of lower Manhattan.

The complaint said Saipov had requested permission to display the flag of the Islamic State militant group in his hospital room.

It said he was particularly motivated by seeing a video in which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who led the campaign by Islamic State – also known as ISIS – to seize territory for a self-proclaimed caliphate within Iraq and Syria, exhorted Muslims in the United States and elsewhere to support the group’s cause.

Investigators found thousands of ISIS-related propaganda images and videos on a cellphone belonging to Saipov, including video clips showing ISIS prisoners being beheaded, run over by a tank and shot in the face, the complaint said.

Separately on Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had located another Uzbek man, Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, 32, wanted for questioning as a person of interest in the attack. The FBI earlier had issued a wanted posted for Kadirov.

The assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, William Sweeney Jr., declined at a news conference to give any details on Kadirov or where he was found.

U.S. law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, told Reuters that Saipov had been in contact with Kadirov and another person of interest in the investigation, though they did not elaborate.

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack, is seen in this courtroom sketch appearing in Manhattan federal courtroom in a wheelchair in New York, NY, U.S., November 1, 2017.

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in the New York City truck attack, is seen in this courtroom sketch appearing in Manhattan federal courtroom in a wheelchair in New York, NY, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

ELIGIBLE FOR DEATH PENALTY

Saipov was charged with one count of providing material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically Islamic State, and one count of violence and destruction of motor vehicles causing the deaths of eight people.

Manhattan acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said the first count carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the second would make Saipov eligible for capital punishment if convicted, if the government chose to seek the death penalty. Additional or different charges could be brought later in an indictment, Kim said.

Vehicle assaults similar to the New York attack took place in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year, claiming dozens of lives.

Tuesday’s assault was the deadliest in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people.

Of those killed on Tuesday, five were Argentine tourists, who were among a group of friends visiting New York to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, one was a Belgian citizen, one was a New York resident and one lived in New Jersey.

Saipov allegedly used a pickup truck rented from a New Jersey Home Depot store to run down pedestrians and cyclists along a 20-block stretch of the bike path that runs along the Hudson River before slamming into a school bus.

According to authorities, he then exited his vehicle shouting “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic for “God is greatest” – and brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

Saipov lived in Paterson, New Jersey, a one-time industrial hub about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of lower Manhattan.

Candles are seen during a vigil for victims of the pickup truck attack at Foley Square in New York City, U.S., November 1, 2017

Candles are seen during a vigil for victims of the pickup truck attack at Foley Square in New York City, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

WHEELCHAIR-BOUND SUSPECT

Saipov, seated in a wheelchair, appeared for a brief hearing in Manhattan federal court Wednesday evening before Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses. A Russian interpreter translated for Saipov.

Saipov did not ask for bail and was remanded to federal custody. It was not immediately clear where he would be held.

Moses appointed public defense attorney David Patton to represent Saipov.

Patton asked Moses that she recommend that Saipov be given a wheelchair or cane while in custody. He said Saipov was in “a significant amount of pain” and asked that he be given treatment for that as well. Moses agreed to the requests.

Two senior U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday urged authorities to treat Saipov as an enemy combatant, which would allow investigators to question him without having a lawyer present.

President Donald Trump said he would be open to transferring Saipov to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where other suspects including alleged Sept. 11 plotters are held.

Kim, the federal prosecutor, said there was nothing about charging Saipov in civilian court that would necessarily prevent him from later being declared an enemy combatant. “That is a determination that will be made elsewhere,” he told reporters.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said police will be out in force to protect the city’s marathon on Sunday, one of the world’s top road races, which draws some 51,000 runners and 2.5 million spectators from around the globe.

 

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Melissa Fares and Devika Kumar in New York, Joseph Ax in Paterson, New Jersey, and Mark Hosenball and Tim Ahmann in Washington; Writing by Scott Malone and Steve Gorman; Editing by Andrew Hay and Leslie Adler)

 

Deadly attack in New York City branded ‘terrorism’ by authorities

Police investigate a pickup truck used in an attack on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S.,

By Gina Cherelus and Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Uzbek immigrant accused of killing eight people in New York City by driving a rental truck down a riverfront bike path on Tuesday appeared to have acted alone in an attack that bore all the hallmarks of terrorism, authorities said.

The suspect, who was shot by police and arrested moments after the rampage in Lower Manhattan, left a note saying he carried out the attack in the name of the militant Islamic State group, the New York Times and CNN said.

The death toll was lower than from similar assaults in Spain in August and in France and Germany last year. However, it was still the bloodiest single attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, when suicide hijackers crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center, killing more than 2,600 people.

The suspect allegedly swerved the pickup onto a path filled with pedestrians and bicyclists on a sunny, crisp autumn afternoon, mowing down everyone in his path before slamming into the side of a school bus.

The man then exited the vehicle brandishing what turned out to be a paint-ball gun and a pellet gun before a police officer shot him in the abdomen.

Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017.

Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The attack, which left crumpled bicycles scattered along the path and victims writhing on the ground, was over in seconds.

In addition to the eight fatalities at least 11 people were hospitalized for injuries described as serious but not life-threatening. That excluded the suspect, who underwent surgery for gunshot wounds.

Police declined to publicly identify the man, but a source familiar with the investigation said his name was Sayfullo Saipov, 29. He reportedly lived in Paterson, New Jersey, a one-time industrial hub about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of lower Manhattan.

He had rented the pickup from a Home Depot hardware store which, according to media accounts, was located in Passaic, just south of Paterson.

First responders tend to a victim after a shooting incident in New York City

First responders tend to a victim after a shooting incident in New York City October 31, 2017.

ARGENTINE FRIENDS AMONG DEAD

Six victims were pronounced dead at the scene and two more at a nearby hospital, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Five of the dead were Argentine tourists, visiting New York as part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, the government there said. Belgium’s foreign minister said a Belgian citizen was also among those killed.

Despite the attack, thousands of costumed Halloween revelers turned out hours later for New York City’s main Halloween parade, which went on as scheduled on Tuesday night with a heightened police presence just a few blocks away.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said police will be out in force to protect the city’s marathon, which is scheduled for Sunday. “You’ll see a lot of officers with long guns. Other things you won’t see that are protecting us,” he told MSNBC.

A U.S. law enforcement official described the suspect as a U.S. immigrant born in Uzbekistan, a predominantly Muslim country in Central Asia that was once part of the former Soviet Union. CNN and NBC News said he entered the United States in 2010.

Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said his government would do all it could to help investigate the “extremely brutal” attack.

Authorities late on Tuesday surrounded a house in Paterson where, according to the New York Times, Saipov was believed to have lived. Paterson, known for its large immigrant population, is home to about 150,000 people, including 25,000 to 30,000 Muslims.

ABC News reported that Saipov had lived in Tampa, Florida. A check of court records related to a traffic citation that Saipov received in eastern Pennsylvania in 2015 showed he listed addresses then in Paterson and Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

CNN and other media outlets, citing police officials, reported that the suspect shouted “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic for “God is greatest” – when he jumped out of his truck.

Although authorities from the mayor’s office to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security all swiftly branded the attack an act of terrorism, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stressed that the suspect was believed to have acted alone.

The New York Times said investigators quickly recognized Saipov had come to the attention of law enforcement in the past. It cited three officials as saying federal authorities knew of Saipov from an unrelated probe, although it was unclear whether that was because he had ties to someone who was under scrutiny or because he was the target of an investigation.

A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media.

A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Sebastian Sobczak via REUTERS

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, told MSNBC in an interview that authorities were not aware of any other suspects, but that finding any such links would be a priority.

“It’s still I think far too early to say” whether the suspect was radicalized before he came to the United States years ago or shifted once he was already here, or acted on his own rather than at the behest of an organized group, he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has pressed for a ban on travelers entering the United States from some predominantly Muslim countries, said on Twitter that he had ordered Homeland Security officials to “step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

He also criticized the U.S. visa system, blaming Democrats and saying that he wanted a ‘merit based’ program for immigrants to the United States.

 

 

(Reporting by Dan Trotta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen, Anna Driver and Barbara Goldberg in New York, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Mark Hosenball and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Paul Tait and Chizu Nomiyama)

 

Several people killed by vehicle on New York City bike path

Several people killed by vehicle on New York City bike path

By Gina Cherelus and Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York City on Tuesday afternoon after a vehicle drove down a bike path that runs alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan, police said.

The New York City Police Department, in a post on Twitter, said that one vehicle struck another, then the driver of one of the vehicles “got out displaying imitation firearms and was shot by police.”

Police said the suspect was taken into custody.

A police spokesman posted a photo showing a white pickup truck on the bike path with its front end smashed. The truck had the logo of the Home Depot hardware store chain on its door.

An witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people. The witness, who was identified only as Eugene, said bodies were lying outside Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s elite public schools.

He also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots, but was not sure where they came from.

A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and two people lying on the ground.

City Hall said Mayor Bill de Blasio had been briefed about the incident. The office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the governor was heading to the scene.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Anna Driver, Dan Trotta and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Puerto Rico moves to cancel Whitefish power contract after uproar

: A pickup truck from Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings is parked as workers (not pictured) help fix the island's power grid, damaged during Hurricane Maria in September, in Manati, Puerto Rico October 25, 2017.

By Ginger Gibson and David Gaffen

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Puerto Rico’s government power company said on Sunday it will cancel a $300 million contract with a tiny Montana company to restore power to the storm-hit U.S. territory after an uproar over the deal.

The contract between Whitefish Energy Holdings and Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power utility came under fire after it was revealed last week that the terms were obtained without a competitive public bidding process. Residents, local officials and U.S. federal authorities all criticized the arrangement.

The cancellation could further complicate Puerto Rico’s most pressing challenge from the territory’s worst storm in 80 years – restoring power to its 3.4 million residents. Nearly six weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, only about a quarter of homes and businesses have power, and the utility has set a goal of having 95 percent of power back by the middle of December.

Several other utilities have been involved in recovery efforts, but Whitefish said they had more than 350 people on the island. Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) Director Ricardo Ramos said that he had to consider the “delay risk” of agreeing to cancel the contract. The territory has reached out to officials in Florida and New York, which have already sent people to Puerto Rico, to send more crews in the event that Whitefish departs.

Whitefish said in a statement it was “disappointed” in the decision, adding that it will “only delay what the people of Puerto Rico want and deserve – to have the power restored quickly in the same manner their fellow citizens on the mainland experience after a natural disaster.”

Earlier on Sunday, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Rosselló had called for the contract with Whitefish to be canceled, and PREPA’s Ramos said he had accepted the governor’s recommendation.

“Following the information that has emerged, and with the goal of protecting public interest, as governor I am asking government and energy authorities to immediately activate the clause to cancel the contract to Whitefish Energy,” Rossello said in a statement.

Ramos, in a press conference Sunday, noted that the initial enthusiasm from residents over Whitefish employees coming to the island had shifted in the last several days after media reported the details of the contract.

“As soon as this whole issue was interpreted by the tabloids that PREPA has given away $300 million to a company with little experience…if you read that, and you have no light and no water that perception changes abruptly to the extent that the last four days they’ve been throwing stones and bottles” at workers, Ramos said.

Ramos said contract terms with Whitefish meant that the cancellation would become effective 30 days from notice and, signaling potential intricacies, explained that there were “a lot of logistics involved. I believe they have people on the way here.”

“The contract is not canceled as of yet. I am writing today a letter to the board of directors of PREPA asking for a resolution that will allow me to cancel the contract,” Ramos said.

Whitefish, which has a full-time staff of two, said it would complete any work that PREPA wanted it to, and noted their initial efforts “exceeded all other efforts by other parties.”

They said they completed work on two major transmission lines that crossed the island’s mountainous interior, and that PREPA’s decision to contact them “only sped up the repairs.”

Criticism increased after a copy of the contract with PREPA surfaced online on Thursday night and raised more questions, particularly over language blocking oversight of costs and profits.

Ramos noted that the federal contracting process is a long one, and that PREPA “could not wait.”

Workers from Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings help fix the island's power grid, damaged during Hurricane Maria in September, in Manati, Puerto Rico October 25, 2017.

FILE PHOTO: Workers from Montana-based Whitefish Energy Holdings help fix the island’s power grid, damaged during Hurricane Maria in September, in Manati, Puerto Rico October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez/File Photo

APPEAL TO NEW YORK, FLORIDA

Efforts to restore power have been bumpy. It took more than a week for a damage assessment to be completed, and PREPA did not immediately ask for what is known as “mutual aid,” whereupon utilities send workers in droves to restore power to hard-hit areas.

Residents have been forced to rely on diesel generators and most of the island remained in darkness.

Eventually, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was put in charge of power restoration. Rosselló said he had reached out to Florida and New York in part because of a delay in the arrival of brigades from the Army Corps.

Speaking to CNN, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he could send hundreds of work crews to Puerto Rico to assist with the repair work. Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office said he and Rossello “have talked frequently regarding Hurricane Maria recovery. Governor Scott is proud to offer any guidance, advice and assistance they may need.”

PREPA declared bankruptcy in July. It has a $9 billion debt load caused by years of unsuccessful rate collection efforts, particularly from municipal governments and state agencies, and a lack of investment in equipment and maintenance.

The Puerto Rican government is bracing for the possibility that Whitefish would sue for breach of contract if the cancellation is approved, according to sources familiar with discussions. The government already paid Whitefish $8 million and does not expect the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse that sum, the sources said.

 

(Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski, Jessica Resnick-Ault, Dan Bases and Nick Brown; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Mary Milliken)

 

Windy rainstorm whips U.S. Northeast, cutting power to hundreds of thousands

Storm Summary has been initialized for the deep low pressure system which is bringing damaging winds, heavy rain across the Northeast, even some snow over West Virginia.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fierce winds and heavy rain downed trees and knocked out power across the U.S. Northeast, halting trains during the Monday morning commute and leaving neighborhoods from Boston to Washington in the dark.

Wind gusts of 82 miles (131.97 km) per hour were reported on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, while steady rain from Sunday into Monday dumped up to 4 inches (10.16 cm) of water across New England, said National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard.

“There has been quite a bit of wind, and when the ground gets wet like this, trees fall,” Chenard said.

Amtrak train service between Boston and New Haven, Connecticut, was suspended early on Monday as crews scrambled to clear branches and restore power, authorities said.

Connecticut commuters piled onto buses or sought alternative routes after Metro-North Railroad suspended service on its New Canaan line and on its Danbury line, which it said on Twitter was hampered by a mudslide and related signal problems.

More than 800,000 homes and businesses lost electricity overnight throughout the Northeast, including about 300,000 customers in Massachusetts, 270,000 in New Hampshire, 142,000 in Rhode Island, 30,000 on New York’s Long Island, 56,000 in Maine and 35,000 in Vermont, according to local media.

Early on Monday, traffic lights in parts of Washington remained dark due to power outages.

The storm hit the East Coast on the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. That late-season hurricane killed at least 159 people in New York, New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012, and damaged or destroyed more than 650,000 homes.

The National Weather Service said the heaviest rains and winds ended late on Monday morning, but lighter precipitation and some gusts would persist throughout the day.

“The biggest potential now is for more trees to come down and for minor-to-moderate river flooding in eastern New York and much of New England today into tomorrow,” Chenard said.

It was not immediately known how long it would be until power is fully restored.

 

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 

New York lets neighborhood return to nature to guard against storms

New York lets neighborhood return to nature to guard against storms

By Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Every now and then, Frank and Mary Lettieri come back to visit what used to be their tightly packed Staten Island neighborhood before Superstorm Sandy prompted New York state to let it go back to nature.

The deadly storm, which swamped the New York metropolitan area five years ago and revealed its vulnerability, convinced state officials to offer to buy out homeowners in flood-prone areas, including the Lettieris’ Oakwood Beach neighborhood.

At first, the Lettieris resisted. They had owned their nearly paid-off home since 1987, raised five children in it and spent $138,000 to rebuild after the storm sent a surge over the nearby beach that filled their first floor with seawater.

But eventually, like nearly 80 percent of their fellow Staten Island residents who were offered the same opportunity, they took the deal, part of a New York state program to convert the most vulnerable neighborhoods into uninhabited buffer zones.

“I wish we could have stayed, but we couldn’t,” said Frank, remembering a 1992 storm that also flooded them out. “The writing was on the wall. We had to go.”

Sandy, a late-season hurricane, killed at least 159 people in New York, New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast on Oct. 29, 2012, including a father and son who drowned in the basement of their home next door to the Lettieris. It damaged or destroyed more than 650,000 homes.

Much of the impetus for the home buyout program was an expectation that storms like Sandy will become more common, according to Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

“To say that extreme weather is not our new normal would just be incredibly short-sighted,” she said.

Rising sea levels will increase the average number of storms that flood New York City with surges of at least 7.4 feet (2.3 m) to once every five years by 2030 from once every 500 years before 1800, according to a Rutgers University study published on Tuesday.

BUFFER ZONE

Using money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York has spent $255 million to buy 654 properties, mostly in Staten Island, with 83 more in the pipeline, the Office of Storm Recovery said.

“The program is voluntary,” said Bova-Hiatt. “However, at some point it would be fantastic to have the entire area as a buffer zone.”

Bova-Hiatt, herself a Staten Island resident, said the state will never use its power of eminent domain to force out the Staten Islanders who declined buyout offers for 142 properties and can no longer accept them because the program has ended.

But she declined to predict whether New York City would seize property for a planned seawall to protect 5.5 miles (8.9 km) of Staten Island’s east coast.

New Jersey also has a buyout program, having spent $110 million from the federal government to buy 520 properties in areas that were hit by Sandy-related flooding, according to the State Department of Environmental Protection.

Two residents of Staten Island’s Oakwood Beach section who declined to sell are Gregory and Olga Epshteyn. Their two-story home is among 88 that the state failed to acquire out of the 402 in the neighborhood that were eligible.

“This is the best place on Staten Island to live,” said Gregory, adding that the city still diligently provides services, such as garbage pickup and street lights.

“We love it here, but we miss our neighbors,” Olga added.

The Epshteyns’ home now has plenty of open space around it as Oakwood Beach and two other storm-ravaged sections of Staten Island return to their natural states.

Most of the bungalows, townhouses and other modest homes that lined the neighborhood’s narrow streets have been torn down and covered over with grass that the state maintains.

On a recent visit, the Lettieris, both retired, said they missed Oakwood Beach, but did not regret their decision to take the state’s offer and move to higher ground about a mile (1.6 km) away.

Former residents often come back on the anniversary of Sandy and many are expected to visit on this Sunday’s five-year mark.

Yuriy Domashov recently moved to the edge of Oakwood Beach after taking the state buyout for his oceanfront townhouse in another flood-prone area a few miles up the beach.

“For all my life I was connected to the water,” said Domashov, a veteran of the Soviet navy, as he walked his dog near the beach.

Having survived the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and an ordeal aboard his submarine, Domashov said he does not worry about another storm of the century.

“Once in 100 years, I believe, is good enough for me,” said Domashov, who is 75.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Plane by plane, New York greets Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricane

Plane by plane, New York greets Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricane

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – There were only a few minutes left before baggage carousel No. 4 jolted to life at John F. Kennedy International Airport, soon to be ringed with people coming from Puerto Rico on one-way tickets they never would have bought if not for the hurricane.

Moving at a canter, Emily Pagan and three colleagues from various New York state government agencies carted their fold-up table halfway down the Terminal 5 arrivals hall, setting it up by the carousel against a pillar.

They had volunteered to help orient the latest batch of the tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans that New York officials estimate will flee from the lingering devastation wrought a month ago by Hurricane Maria.

Many are expected to stay for months – or years – and some forever, in a largely reluctant wave of migration abetted by the spare mattresses and couches of the one million Puerto Ricans who already call the New York area home.

“A lot of them are saying they came to start a new life here because they lost everything,” Pagan said on her third day of greeting arrivals from the U.S. territory, where the power grid and water supply remain in disarray.

She tried to make the makeshift help desk look nice, centering a bowl of mints and squaring off the piles of leaflets about health and job resources.

A clipboard wedged into her elbow, Pagan hurried up to anyone who looked like they were waiting for relatives from the island, flipping between English and Spanish: “Hi, I’m Emily, and I represent the state.”

Lissette Feliciano, who had driven down from Bridgeport, Connecticut, was among those grateful for a leaflet. Then bags began thudding onto the carousel and the automatic doors slid open to admit her 10-year-old nephew, sporting an Incredible Hulk T-shirt, alongside her youngest sister, Madeline Feliciano.

The nephew, Carlos, grinned as he was nuzzled by his aunt. It was their first time leaving the island. They never expected an airplane cabin would be so cold, he said, shivering.

“I’m so-so,” his mother said, looking daunted.

Many Puerto Rican families are divided between those who prefer the island’s warmth and those who cannot understand why one would not move to the mainland’s hustle, as Lissette did seven years ago. But the storm put those disagreements on hold.

“Four days, no running water,” Madeline said of their hometown, Isabela. She did not know when they could return.

“They’ll stay with me until we can find something for her,” said Lissette, who had already found a bilingual school for Carlos.

They headed out, with Madeline and Carlos added to the tally on Pagan’s clipboard.

People gravitated toward Pagan and her purple top bearing the logo of New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, where she normally works as a compliance officer.

Born in Puerto Rico, Pagan, 42, listened to the accounts of each new arrival that made her beautiful native island seem unfamiliar: no water, no power, no green left on the tropical trees, no sort of place where a child or grandparent could thrive.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said between flights. But she tried to put on a welcoming face, slipping lollipops to children before moving on to the next family. She was yet to meet anyone without relatives to stay with, but younger adults seemed worried about finding jobs in a place where they had never planned to live.

Pagan cooed at the green eyes of a 7-year-old boy called Jayden with a Transformers backpack. “You speak English!” she said after the boy squirmed at the compliment. “You understand everything I say!”

Jayden’s father, Joemil Ramirez, was returning to New York City, where he was raised, for only three weeks, partly for its functional telephone network. Much of that time he expected to spend making calls trying to salvage his hurricane-ravaged restaurant in Rincon. But when he returned, he would be leaving behind Jayden, who would move in with the boy’s mother, from whom Ramirez was separated.

“There’s no place for him to be, no school,” Ramirez said. “It’s a situation I wouldn’t give to my own worst enemy.”

Genoveva Mendez, 48, watched the carousel from her wheelchair. She had been undergoing physical therapy three times a week following a stroke, but Maria halted that.

“We had to force her,” said her daughter, Jessenia Lalama. Mendez had refused the offer of a ticket to New York for weeks.

“I like the island, the island’s beautiful,” Mendez said, becoming tearful at the memory of her home before the hurricane.

When the hall emptied, a lone suitcase remained on the carousel as Pagan and her colleagues carried their table back to the corner, ready to greet the next day’s flights.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)

Three charged with plotting NY attacks for Islamic State: U.S. prosecutors

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Three men have been arrested since May of last year on charges of plotting attacks in New York City for Islamic State in the summer of 2016, U.S. prosecutors said on Friday.

The planned attacks, which were thwarted by law enforcement, included detonating explosives in Manhattan’s Times Square and in the city’s subway, according to the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan.

One of the men, 19-year-old Canadian citizen Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, has been in U.S. custody since May 2016, when he was arrested in New Jersey. He pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in October 2016, the prosecutors said.

Talha Haroon, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested in Pakistan, where he lives, around September 2016, and Russell Salic, a 37-year-old citizen of the Philippines, was arrested in that country in April of this year, according to Kim’s office.

Prosecutors said they expected Haroon and Salic to be extradited to the United States to face the charges, which include conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism and to support a terrorist organization. If convicted of the most serious charges, they face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Lawyers for the three men could not immediately be identified.

Prosecutors said El Bahnasawy bought bomb-making materials and helped secure a cabin near New York City from which to stage attacks. They said Haroon planned to travel from Pakistan to help El Bahnasawy carry out attacks, and that Salic helped fund the plot.

According to documents unsealed in federal court in Manhattan on Friday, El Bahnasawy and Haroon planned to carry out attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ran from early June to early July.

El Bahnasawy told an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a supporter of Islamic State that he wanted to “create the next 9/11,” prosecutors said. El Bahnasawy told the officer of plans to detonate a car bomb in Times Square and “shoot up concerts,” according to prosecutors.

Haroon likewise told the officer that Time Square was “a perfect spot to hit them,” prosecutors said.

Salic, who maintained a pro-Islamic State social media presence, told the undercover officer that he had been communicating with El Bahnasawy, and sent the officer about $423 from the Philippines to help pay for the attacks, according to prosecutors.

El Bahnasawy bought bomb-making materials in Canada, and was arrested the same day he came to the United States, the prosecutors said.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay and Jonathan Oatis)

U.S. safety board: Train-crash engineers had sleep disorders

: A computer screen showing different tracks at the Penn Station Control Room for Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo A

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The engineers in two New York City area commuter train crashes suffered from undiagnosed sleep disorders, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday.

The board plans to hold a Feb. 6 meeting on the September 2016 crash in Hoboken, New Jersey, that killed one person and injured more than 100 others, and the January accident in Brooklyn that left more than 100 people with non-life-threatening injuries.

Both engineers had no memory of the crashes and were severely overweight. The Centers for Disease Control says being overweight puts individuals at a higher risk of sleep apnea.

The disorder, characterized by shallow or interrupted breathing during sleep, often goes undiagnosed and can leave sufferers fatigued during the day, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The safety board said the brakes were working on the New Jersey Transit train traveling at 8 miles (13 km) per hour 38 seconds before the crash. The train then accelerated to 21 mph at impact, twice the speed limit, and emergency brakes were applied one second before the crash.

The 48-year-old engineer underwent a home sleep study in October that concluded “he had severe sleep apnea.” A separate report found he was obese and had gained more than 90 pounds in the previous five years.

In January, the safety board said the Long Island Rail Road train that crashed into a bumper at the busy Atlantic Terminal in New York’s Brooklyn borough appeared to be traveling at more than twice the speed limit of 5 mph.

The engineer was diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea after the crash, the board said on Thursday.

The LIRR began testing all of its 432 engineers for sleep apnea after the accident and told the board that 34 had been screened through May.

Eight of the 34 had screened positive and had been referred for more testing. One other engineer told the LIRR he had been diagnosed and was being treated for sleep apnea.

The safety board has raised the issue before. In 2014, it said the driver of a train that derailed in New York City, killing four passengers, had an undiagnosed sleep disorder at the time of the 2013 accident.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)