Identifying the Train Crash Victim
The New Jersey medical examiner identified the woman who died in Thursday’s train crash in Hoboken as 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon.
De Kroon, a native of Brazil who had recently moved to New Jersey, is the only person who died in the crash that injured more than 100 people. NBC New York reports:
Officials said de Kroon had been standing on the platform when train No. 1614 on the Pascack Valley Line barreled into the terminal at 8:45 a.m. It's not clear where the woman was headed.
Her child was in daycare at the time of the crash, while her husband was out of town on business, NBC reports.
The engineer of the train that crashed, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher, has been released from the hospital, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday afternoon.
Updates from the Governors of New York And New Jersey
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the crash killed one person, a woman who was struck by flying debris as she stood on the platform. The train came into the station at a high speed and rammed through support barriers and into the wall at the end of the Hoboken Tunnel, Christie said at a news conference.
He said officials do not yet know why the train was moving at a high speed. Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also spoke at the news conference, would not speculate on the cause of the crash.
“If there’s a lesson to learn,” Cuomo said, “we will learn it.”
The crash damaged the station's electrical system, which powers the rail lines, and the support beams that hold up the roof.
PATH, the transit service, meanwhile said its service will be restored.
Statements From Governor Chris Christie and Hoboken's Mayor
The state’s governor says there’s no indication that the crash was caused by anything except an accident.
“The one thing we do know,” he said, “is that the train was traveling at a high rate of speed.”
Christie also confirmed to CNN that one person was killed.
And here’s the statement from the Hoboken mayor:
Nature of the Injuries
None of the people treated at the Jersey City Medical Center had life-threatening injuries, the facility’s CEO, Joseph Scott, said at a news conference. Fifty-one people were admitted in all, of whom three were listed in “serious” condition, he said. All were either in “critical” or “stable” condition, he said.
The three patients in serious condition were being treated either in the operating room or the intensive-care unit. Most of the others had minor injuries and were being evaluated to see whether they should be admitted, he said.
An additional 22 people were admitted to the Hoboken University Medical Center; all all reported stable.
A Witness to the Crash
This witness to the train crash recounted the chaos just after the crash. She said the people in the first train experienced the worst injuries, and that this line has been unusually crowded because of “shorter trains."
Another Image of the Damage
Here’s an aerial view of the station:
NJ Transit and Positive Train Control
American railroads are in the process of implementing Positive Train Control, a label given to methods used to guarantee train safety by monitoring speed and compliance with signals. In 2008, Congress mandated that U.S. lines implement PTC by 2015, but railroads called that deadline unrealistic, and in 2015 the deadline was extended to 2018.
NJ Transit has not installed much PTC, though it says it will do so by 2018. In its latest quarterly report, dated July 29, it said no locomotives were fully PTC-equipped, no employees were trained, and no miles of track were set up. NJ Transit told NJ.com in August that it expected to embark on limited tests in December.
An Update on the Injuries
Multiple news organization are quoting a spokeswoman for NJ Transit as saying 100 people were injured in the crash. Additionally, several news organizations are citing unnamed officials as saying there is at least one fatality. The news about the fatalities has not been independently confirmed.
More Witness Accounts
Passenger Bhagyesh Shah told WNBC he boarded the train at Secaucus, New Jersey, and stood in the back. As it neared the Hoboken station, he said, "we are plowing through the platform. It was for a couple seconds, but it felt like an eternity."
"I saw a woman pinned under concrete," Shah said. "A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying."
Linda Albelli told Reuters she sat in one of the rear cars, and as they approached the station she noticed the conductor wasn’t slowing up, that "we're going too fast.”
"And with that there was this tremendous crash."
A Previous Crash in Hoboken
In May 2011 a PATH train slammed into the bumpers at the end of the tracks in Hoboken. It too occurred during the morning rush hour. Some 34 people complained of minor injuries, many of them to the neck because of whiplash.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed human error:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the engineer to control the speed of the train entering the station. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control system that would have intervened to stop the train and prevent the collision.
A NJ Transit Crash From 1996
On February 9, 1996, two New Jersey Transit trains collided head-on in Jersey City.
“Witnesses told of a routine trip on an ordinary Friday suddenly lurching into madness—of an impact like an explosion, of business-attired commuters hurtling through cars, of an engine mangled and some cars split open, of halting finally, derailed and atilt, and a ghostly stunned silence before the hopeless shrieks and the panic of the blood-streaked victims began,” Robert McFadden wrote in The New York Times. But by some standards, the crash was a lucky one: Only three people, including both engineers, were killed.
It was the worst commuter collision in the region since 1958, officials said at the time. (The NTSB ultimately blamed one engineer’s diabetes-related color blindness for the crash.) Since then, there have been several worse accidents in the area. In 2013, a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx, killing four. In 2015, a collision between a Metro-North train and a car in Westchester County killed six. NJ Transit, however, has not seen the same problems on its trains.
That, too, may be largely a matter of luck. In 2014, the head of a union representing NJ Transit workers complained that the agency’s bosses were far more concerned about trains arriving on time than being safe, adding, “We just go about our work every day and we’re not told anything—nobody ever talks to us about safety.” A report commissioned by NJ Transit, at a cost of nearly $500,000, validated those worries, at least in part. The report concluded that “safety is internalized as part of the consciousness of nearly all NJT Rail employees,” but also that “Staffing level of safety organization is inadequate for currently assigned responsibilities.”
Scale of the Damage
This image, tweeted by NPR, shows the extent of the damage to both the station and the train.
More on the Train
WABC, the local ABC affiliate, reports:
Passengers say it was train number 1614 on the Pascack Valley Line, which departed from Spring Valley at 7:23 and was due to arrive in Hoboken at 8:38. It was apparently running late.
This information hasn’t been independently verified.
Nancy Mido, a passenger on the train, told WNBC she received minor injures in the crash.
"I realized we had hit the station—that was pretty obvious,” she said. “Everybody was pretty shaken.”
She was among several people waiting for a bus to take them to hospital, she said.
“It was a really disastrous scene because everything just crashed and came down,” she said.
WNBC reported dozens of injuries while WABC reported at least 100 injuries. Those numbers have not been officially confirmed.
The Hoboken University Medical Center reported it had received four patients.
Video From the Scene
Here’s video from the scene posted to social media:
The crash, which occurred during the morning rush hour, is likely to affect commuters who use the state-owned rail service to travel to their workplaces in New York City, Philadelphia, and points in between.
Train May Belong to NJ Tansit
Photographs of the train posted on Twitter show railcars bearing the colors of NJ Transit.
NJ Transit itself has not said whether its train was involved, though it did say it was suspending service in and out of Hoboken following the crash.
PATH Suspends Service
PATH, the commuter rail network, said it was suspending all service to Hoboken following the crash. It urged passengers to use NJ Transit Light Rail.