DUPONT, Wash. (AP) — Critical safety technology designed to automatically slow or stop trains that are going too fast was not working on a section of track outside of Seattle where an Amtrak train derailed, killing three people.

Sound Transit said Tuesday that the company was on schedule to have positive train control installed and operational in the spring, ahead of a December 2018 federal deadline.

The system would be able to take over control of a train when an engineer is distracted or incapacitated.

Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said the “vast majority” of equipment needed had been installed but not fully operational along the tracks and trains in the 14.5-mile (23.3-kilometer) section of line where the derailment occurred.

Engineer Distracted?

A U.S. official says investigators are examining whether an Amtrak engineer was distracted when a speeding train derailed, killing three people and sending several rail cars flying off an overpass.

The official said Tuesday that in addition to the engineer, there was another employee training in the train’s cab Monday.

The official says investigators are looking into whether the engineer lost “situational awareness.”

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Audio dispatch in which a crew member discusses injuries to the engineer mentions a second person in the front of the train, who was also hurt.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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