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GREENVILLE, S.C. –Visibly shaken, with his arm still in a sling, Matt Conrad says his mind is still on the tracks where his train made that deadly derailment Saturday.  “I’m hearbroken,” Conrad says.  “It was worse than my worst nightmare.”  Conrad, a veteran conductor, appeared with his attorneys to speak for the first time Wednesday.  He says he ran the train 8 times on the day of the crash, before its last tragic trip.  On its third and final lap, Conrad felt the back end come off the track.  Seconds later, he says it was disaster.  “I had just enough time to realize I was off the track, and think, I hope we don’t go in that creek.”

His attorneys, Grant and Kim Varner of Greenville, say despite his own injuries, Conrad rushed to help injured children.  According to police reports, when speaking to officers, the conductor claimed he was going “too fast.”  Now, Conrad believes he was just in shock when he made the comments.  “If I had felt anything at all that would have told me there’s a problem, I would have stopped,” he says with tears.  “I would not have let those kids get hurt for the world.”

Blogs written by Conrad just days before the train’s final inspection, shed some light into problems he may have had with the locomotive.  One reads:  “The brakes work acceptably on the engine and two center cars. However, cutting the brakes in on the tail car resulted in a near total loss of vacuum.”  Conrad says he wrote the blogs with a very large “safety cushion” in mind, and that his standards were extremely high.  He says he felt confident the ride was good to go.  “I did everything I could to make that train safe.”

As Spartanburg Public Safety still investigates the case, Conrad’s attorneys say he should not be the focus of any crimnal action.  “If anything we believe this was just a freak accident,” says Grant Varner.

Conrad says he spoke to the father of Benji Easler, who died in the crash, this week.  He says Reverand Dwight Easler assured him he was not at fault in the crash.  “He prayed with me over the phone.”  Still, Conrad claims he might never get over the guilt of that day.  “I was responsible for the safe carriage of those people, and something went terribly wrong.”


Credit: www.wspa.com