December 1, 2013
A commuter train derailed Sunday morning as it hurtled around a sharp curve in New York City, killing four passengers and injuring dozens of others who were tossed around like rag dolls, authorities said.
Officials said at least 63 other people were injured when all seven cars of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad train jumped the tracks as it was rounding the notorious sharp turn right before the historic Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx about 7:22 a.m. ET.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority identified the four passengers who were killed as Jim Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y.; James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y.; Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y.; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens.
Fire officials said that as many as 11 of the injured were critical and that six were in serious condition.
Initial reports said some of the cars had gone into the Hudson River, but they narrowly avoided plunging into river. Police divers were in the frigid waters just in case, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
What can travelers expect for their work commutes Monday morning? NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.
“Everything has proven negative as far as those searches are concerned,” he said.
Sources told NBC News late Sunday afternoon that the train’s engineer — a “respected veteran” with 20 years of Metro-North experience who suffered minor injuries — claimed when first responders arrived that he hit the brakes as the train approached the turn.
Earl Weener, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, wouldn’t discuss what might have caused the accident. Investigators said they had recovered the train’s data recorder, which should show how fast it was traveling and whether its brakes did, in fact, fail.
Weener said cars that were still on their sides were being uprighted to see whether there were any other deaths or injuries.
Just short of the station
Metro-North said the 5:54 a.m. diesel train from Poughkeepsie derailed just feet from the water near the station. It was due at Grand Central Station at 7:43 a.m.
The train was half full, with about 150 passengers, rail officials said. The locomotive was on the north end of the train, pushing the cars southward.
“On a workday, fully occupied, it would have been a tremendous disaster,” Fire Commissioner Salvatore Joseph Cassano told reporters at the scene.
One of the victims was found in the first car, one was found outside that car, another was found near the second and third cars, and the fourth was found outside the fourth car.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and federal safety officials say the investigation could take a week to 10 days.
“It’s a reminder to all of us that life is a precious gift,” Cuomo said at an afternoon news conference.
The condition of the tracks and the cars will be the focus of the NTSB probe, along with the speed the train was traveling, Weener said. The investigation is expected to take a week to 10 days.
Sherelle Coore, a 19-year-old college student from the Bronx who was aboard the train, told her cousin from her hospital bed that she felt a “jerking” movement and then everything started happening very quickly.
“She hit the side of her head,” Coore’s cousin, Lisa Delgado, told NBC New York. “She saw the woman in front of her go out the other window. Her glass broke, and she hung on to the side rails like a monkey while the train was flipping and the rocks were coming in.”
Sherry Nemmers, who lives near the scene, told NBC News that she heard a sound “that was a little too familiar for me.” She’d heard it before this summer, when a CSX freight train hauling trash on the same line derailed near the same area of the Bronx.
“I heard this thud — this dull thud. It sort of sent chills up me because it was a sound that I heard in July,” Nemmers said. “I was afraid that it was going to be a train, and it was.”
No one was injured in July, but questions were raised about the safety of the track’s design and its notoriously sharp turn right before the station. Cuomo noted that the two accidents happened at about the same location but said, “There has to be another factor. … It can’t just be the curve.”
Weener said the agency would examine whether Sunday’s incident could be related, but he said, “At this point in time, we have no indication it was a factor.”
At least six cops injured
At St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, where at least 10 victims were taken, officials said critical patients had spinal cord injuries and broken bones.
Carlo Allegri / Reuters
The train derailed on a curved section of track in the Bronx on Sunday morning, coming to rest just inches from the water and causing multiple deaths and dozens of injuries.
Hospital officials said the injured there included a 14-year-old boy and his father, along with a New York police officer on her way to work who suffered broken bones. Sources said five off-duty New York officers were among the injured, all with relatively minor injuries and reported to be stable.
Metro-North Hudson line service was suspended in both directions. Amtrak service between New York and Albany reopened in midafternoon with delays.
“I think it’s fair to say that tomorrow, people who use these lines should plan on a long commute,” Cuomo said.
President Barack Obama was informed of the crash by the Department of Homeland Security, a White House official said. “His thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families who lost a loved one and everyone affected by this incident,” the official said.
The White House said Obama would continue to stay in touch with New York officials throughout the day.
MTA officials said JFK High School in the Bronx has been established as a meeting area for passengers and their loved ones, and 718-817-7444 is the contact number for those seeking the status of relatives who may have been aboard the train.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
how he lost his heart’s desire = JL = 13 = Death.
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