Driver of south London tram that crashed, killing 7, arrested

LONDON,  Authorities have arrested the driver of the tram that derailed and overturned in the town of Croydon, killing at least seven people, London officials said.

British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith, seen here addressing the media on Wednesday, said the driver of the tram that derailed and overturned has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. Authorities are attempting to determine whether the driver fell asleep, as well as “a number of factors.” Photo courtesy of British Transport Police

The 42-year-old driver from Beckenham has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter. British Transport Police said officials are investigating whether he fell asleep before the derailment that injured more than 50 people.

Robin Smith, assistant chief constable of the British Transport Police, said authorities are investigating “a number of factors,” as well as whether he fell asleep.

“We can confirm that at least seven people have lost their lives as a result of this incident,” British Transport Police Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock said. “Our officers will continue to work tirelessly throughout the evening to formally identify them and provide care and support for their families.”

The train was traveling at a “significantly higher speed than is permitted,” the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said. Wednesday’s tram incident is believed to be the first in England to involve fatalities aboard since 1959.

“Everyone just literally went flying,” Martin Bamford, who was aboard the train and sustained broken ribs, told The Guardian. “It was just terrifying. There was a woman that was on top of me … I don’t think she made it at all. She wasn’t responsive. There was blood everywhere.”

Bamford said he asked the tram driver if he was OK.

“He said: ‘Yeah.’ I said to him, ‘What happened?’ He said he thinks he blacked out,” Manford said, adding that he recalls the tram was speeding up prior to the incident.

The first victim of the tram incident has been identified as 19-year-old Dane Chinnery, who was described as “a beautiful lad” by a family friend.

By Andrew V. Pestano