Train's rate of speed questioned in Hoboken crash

Federal investigators are examining the wreckage of NJ Transit train 1614 that slammed into Hoboken terminal.

- Federal investigators have located the data recorder from the back of NJ Transit train #1614 that crashed into the Hoboken terminal Thursday morning killing one person and injuring 108.

The National Transportation Safety Board remains on the scene and continues to sift through the wreckage.

The event recorder from the controlling cabin has not been recovered. The recording could shed light on the cause of the tragic crash including the speed of the train.

"That is what we are trying to find out," said T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, NTSB Vice Chairman on Friday. "This is such a sad, sad week and time for this community."

At a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) said that a woman standing on the train platform was hit by falling debris and died. The state's Medical Examiner's Office identified the woman as Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken.

The accident caused major structural damage to the station. Gov. Christie said it was unclear when it would be reopened for NJ Transit service. A massive emergency personnel presence was at the scene most of the day.

First responders reported that there was mass chaos in the station in the moments after the crash. Multiple people reported that the first thing they though was that it was a terrorist attack.

A spokesman for the Jersey City Medical Center reported that 3 people were in serious condition and another 8 with less serious injuries were being treated at the facility. They said another 40 or so walk-in patients with minor injuries were also being treated.

Another 22 patients were at Hoboken University Medical Center. Some of the injuries there were considered serious. Officials say that they saw broken bones, lacerations and other minor injuries. Gov. Christie said the train's engineer, who was hospitalized for several hours, was cooperating with investigators. He was later identified as Thomas Gallagher, 48, a 29-year veteran of NJ Transit, 18 of those as an engineer.

NJ Transit officials say approximately 250 passengers were on board the train that slammed into the terminal on track five.

Social media users who say they were on the train say the train was moving at a high rate of speed as it entered the station. A former NJ Transit dispatcher told Fox 5 News that there are safety mechanisms in the station and a bumper at the end of the line and the train would have to have been going very fast to end up as far off of the end of the track as it did.

NJ Transit worker Mike Larson says he witnessed the accident. He says the train went airborne when it crashed at the end of the track.

David Mielach was in the first car of the train. "There was a loud bang. It seems like it didn't stop and then the lights went out."  He said that people stampeded to get out of the train and kicked the windows out.

The train crashed into a wall that separates the track from the station's waiting room.

Tom Spina was walking into the station at the time of the incident. He said, "It was not a good scene. The train was there and the ceiling was kind of collapsed on top of a portion of the train and as you can imagine there's wiring, there's water pipes and things that are just, stuff everywhere. There certainly were some major injuries from things fallen, people bleeding from the head and basically running from the area."

The strike by the NJ Transit/ Pascack Valley Line #1614 departed Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and was due in Hoboken at 8:30 a.m. The crash occurred at about 8:45 a.m., a very busy time at the transit station. The Lackawanna entrance connecting NJ Transit trains to PATH is closed.

All PATH service, NJ Transit Light Rail, NJ Transit Bus service into and out of the Hoboken terminal was suspended for several hours. PATH service was restored in the afternoon.

A team of investigators from the NTSB arrived in Hoboken Thursday afternoon. NTSB Vice Chairwoman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said the team expects to be on scene for 7 to 10 days. The NTSB investigators accessed the locomotive, but were waiting to enter the train cars until the area could be deemed safe. The NTSB expected to interview the train engineer.

A spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration said that investigators were dispatched to the scene.

In a phone interview with Fox 5 News, Gov. Christie said that the station needs to be inspected to make sure it is structurally sound before it can be reopened.

Passengers heading to New York City transfer from New Jersey Transit trains at Hoboken to board other trains and ferries to get into Manhattan. Hoboken is NJ Transit's fifth-busiest station with 15,000 boardings per weekday.

 

A train came barreling through Hoboken Terminal this morning, God bless the injured

A video posted by Marcos Sanchez (@marc_1043) on

 

Fox5NY.com continues to update this story.

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