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Four dead, 63 injured after NYC-bound Metro-North passenger train derails in Bronx

- Officials said seven cars tore off the tracks Sunday near the Hudson River
December 2nd, 2013 | Tags: killed injured Accident New York train derails
A Metro-North train whipped around a sharp turn in the Bronx just before a deadly derailment Sunday morning that killed four, injured dozens and tossed passengers around like rag dolls. Photo: New York Daily News
New York Daily News

A Metro-North train whipped around a sharp turn in the Bronx just before a deadly derailment Sunday morning that killed four, injured dozens and tossed passengers around like rag dolls.

The engineer at the controls of the train headed toward Grand Central Terminal told supervisors that he tried to apply the brakes, a source told the Daily News. But the train didn’t slow down as it took the curve just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station about 7:20 a.m.

James Lovell, second from left , was killed Sunday when the Metro-North train in which he was traveling  derailed just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx. He was married to Philipstown Councilwoman Nancy Montgomery.

James Lovell, second from left , was killed Sunday when the Metro-North train in which he was traveling  derailed just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx. He was married to Philipstown Councilwoman Nancy Montgomery.

“It’s definitely human error,” a different source told The News. “The speed was excessive.”

All seven cars and the locomotive derailed. One train car flipped down a riverbank, coming to rest just inches from the water where the Harlem River meets the Hudson.

“We were going so fast around that turn, something wasn’t right,” said Kathleen Jones, 60, a nurse’s aide from upstate Poughkeepsie. “All of a sudden, everyone went flying. We were dragging on the ground, people were landing on each other. Then there was dirt everywhere.”

Two women and two men were killed in the crash, the MTA said.

Authorities rush to aid the dead and injured after Sunday's train derailment in the Bronx.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Authorities rush to aid the dead and injured after Sunday's train derailment in the Bronx.

They were James Lovell, 58, a father of four from Cold Spring, Putnam County; Ahn Kisook, 35, a nurse from Woodside, Queens; Donna Smith, 54, a paralegal from Newburgh in Orange County, and James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, Westchester County.

An FDNY spokesman said 63 people were injured — 11 of them critically. At least two passengers were ejected through the windows of the Hudson Line train.

The Metro-North Hudson Line train service is shown as suspended Sunday at Grand Central terminal.

SHELLY NG/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The Metro-North Hudson Line train service is shown as suspended Sunday at Grand Central terminal.

Samuel Rivera, 43, of Ossining, Westchester County, was among the most seriously hurt of the survivors, suffering a spinal cord injury. Relatives said Rivera, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee, was on his way to the city with his 14-year-old son.

Metro-North train engineer William 'Bill' Rockefeller Jr. is one of the 63 people injured critically in Sunday's derailment in the Bronx.

ERIC THAYER- Metro-North train engineer William 'Bill' Rockefeller Jr. is one of the 63 people injured critically in Sunday's derailment in the Bronx.

“We don’t know if he’ll ever walk again,” family friend Maria Ojito said at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

Passengers said the train seemed to be traveling too fast to take the curve safely.

Rescue workers at the scene helping those injured in the Metro-North train derailment near Spuyten Duyvil.

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Rescue workers at the scene helping those injured in the Metro-North train derailment near Spuyten Duyvil.

Earl Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board said a diesel locomotive was at the rear of the train, pushing the cars toward Manhattan, when the accident occurred.

The engineer, William Rockefeller, 45, a 15-year Metro-North veteran, was being treated for undisclosed injuries.

Emergency personnel remove train engineer William 'Bill' Rockefeller Jr. from the scene of Sunday's Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx.

ERIC THAYER- Emergency personnel remove train engineer William 'Bill' Rockefeller Jr. from the scene of Sunday's Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx.

“He’s traumatized over the accident,” a source said.

The engineer’s uncle Jan Rockefeller defended his nephew and implored people not to rush to judgment.

Bill Rockefeller Sr., father of Bill Rockefeller Jr., the motor man involved in Sunday's Metro-North train crash in the Bronx, is seen calling police outside his Rhinebeck, N.Y., home.

ANDREW SAVULICH/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Bill Rockefeller Sr., father of Bill Rockefeller Jr., the motor man involved in Sunday's Metro-North train crash in the Bronx, is seen calling police outside his Rhinebeck, N.Y., home.

“If he said the brakes failed, the brakes failed. He doesn’t lie,” the uncle told The News. “He’s been in fire departments, rescues. Everything he did, he did in a safe manner. Everything with him was safety.”

A car from the derailed train sits dangerously close to the Hudson River.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- A car from the derailed train sits dangerously close to the Hudson River.

The speed limit for the curve is 30 mph. Trains normally slow from 70 mph to safely make the curve, officials said. “There has to be another factor. It can’t just be the curve,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Weener said NTSB investigators, who arrived on the scene about 12:30 p.m., recovered the train’s black box, which records the train’s speed and will indicate if the engineer tried to apply the brakes.

Injured train passengers were rushed to local hospitals on Sunday. 

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Injured train passengers were rushed to local hospitals on Sunday. 

Transit officials said the locomotive of the derailed train was righted early Monday and two cranes were in place to lift the rest of the cars as soon as federal investigators gave the order. Commuter trains were expected to run for the morning commute, but officials warned of delays and crowding conditions.

Mayor Bloomberg, who visited survivors at St. Barnabas and Montefiore hospitals Sunday night, said the tragedy could have been worse.

 
A aerial view of a Metro-North train that derailed near the near the Spuyten Duyvil Station in the Bronx, killeing at least four people.

MARK BONIFACIO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- A aerial view of a Metro-North train that derailed near the near the Spuyten Duyvil Station in the Bronx, killeing at least four people.

“It could have gone into the water,” Bloomberg said. “It could have happened later in the day, and on a business day when a train like that is full.”

He said the NTSB would do a thorough investigation. “They don’t rush to judgement just because people want an answer,” the mayor said.

Passengers have reported taking a curve fast before the train derailed on Sunday morning.

MARK BONIFACIO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Passengers have reported taking a curve fast before the train derailed on Sunday morning.

Among the injured was a 37-year-old NYPD officer, a mother of three, who was on her way to work.

Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited her at St. Barnabas, where she was being treated for broken ribs, and leg and shoulder injuries.

Rescue workers rushed to the Metro-North train derailment on Sunday just outside of the Spuyten Duyvil Station.

BARRY WILLIAMS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Rescue workers rushed to the Metro-North train derailment on Sunday just outside of the Spuyten Duyvil Station.

Kelly also checked on four other off-duty NYPD officers who were aboard the train. Two of the cops were treated at the scene and two were taken to Montefiore Medical Center, also in the Bronx.

A aerial view of the Metro-North train derailment shows its location in the Bronx and its proximity to the city.

MARK BONIFACIO/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- A aerial view of the Metro-North train derailment shows its location in the Bronx and its proximity to the city.

Hundreds of first responders raced to the horrific crash, finding the walking wounded in a daze while other passengers were still trapped inside overturned cars.

NYPD scuba divers searched the water for passengers, and rescuers with cadaver dogs looked under toppled cars, fearing other survivors had been ejected.

Dozens were reported injured in the accident.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Dozens were reported injured in the accident.

Cuomo said all passengers and crew members had been accounted for.

But Weener said a crane was being dispatched Sunday night to upright the overturned cars and locomotive and that rescuers would look for other possible casualties under them.

‘There was smoke everywhere and debris. People were thrown to the other side of the train,’ said Joel Zaritsky.

FELIX LAM FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- ‘There was smoke everywhere and debris. People were thrown to the other side of the train,’ said Joel Zaritsky.

More than 150 people were aboard the train, which departed from Poughkeepsie at 5:54 a.m. on Sunday.

Many passengers, including some going home after the long Thanksgiving weekend, were asleep when they were jarred awake by screeching metal, screams and a loud bang as cars left the rails.

A Metro-North passenger train derailed Sunday morning as holiday travelers made their way home from Thanksgiving celebrations.

BARRY WILLIAMS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- A Metro-North passenger train derailed Sunday morning as holiday travelers made their way home from Thanksgiving celebrations.

Survivors said the violent crash sent passengers somersaulting from their seats, some landing on top of each other.

The train was heading to Manhattan when it derailed Sunday morning, injuring dozens and killing four.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- The train was heading to Manhattan when it derailed Sunday morning, injuring dozens and killing four.

“All of a sudden the woman sitting in front of me was on my lap,” said Joseph Melendez, 44, a hotel manager from Poughkeepsie.

As trains skidded along the track bed, rocks and other large debris filled the cars, becoming violent projectiles that slammed into passengers.

A locator map shows the Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North Railroad Station. 

GOOGLE-  locator map shows the Spuyten Duyvil Metro-North Railroad Station. 

“I saw a woman pinned between the chair and the gravel,” said Melendez. “The windows blew out when the train fell and she went through the window.”

A dozen of the injured passengers were taken to St. Barnabas, where officials said two were in critical condition. An additional 17 survivors were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia, where four were in critical condition. Jacobi Medical Center was treating 13 passengers; none were in critical condition.

An overhead view of the Metro-North Train derailment that occurred Sunday.

DANIEL COHEN VIA TWITTER- An overhead view of the Metro-North Train derailment that occurred Sunday.

“Folks are stunned. They’re traumatized. Certainly some will suffer from some form of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder],” said Dr. Ernest Patti of St. Barnabas. “This will be a trying thing for them to get back on a train.”

Survivor Sharelle Coore, 19, a student at the University of Delaware, told relatives that a woman sitting in front of her was ejected through the window of the train. Coore landed on the ceiling of the car she was riding in with her legs wrapped around the luggage rack, said her cousin Lisa Delgado of Washington Heights.

Gov. Cuomo arrives at the scene of the train derailment.

EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT- Gov. Cuomo arrives at the scene of the train derailment.

Thankful to be alive, Coore told relatives from her hospital bed at New York-Presbyterian, “God is good.”

The NTSB immediately dispatched a “go-team” to investigate the accident. Weener said the team would examine the track for any anomalies that could have caused the accident. They will also look at whether signals were working properly and investigate the crew to determine if human error was a contributing factor. He said investigators will also scour the maintenance records for the train and the tracks.

Firefighters help a woman who in a sling who was injured in the Metro-North train derailment Spuyten Duyvil.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Firefighters help a woman who in a sling who was injured in the Metro-North train derailment Spuyten Duyvil.

At the White House, President Barack Obama said his “thoughts and prayers” went out to the injured and the loved ones of those killed.

Eddie Russel, who was on the train when it derailed, said he had some back soreness, but no serious injuries.

ALEX RUD FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Eddie Russel, who was on the train when it derailed, said he had some back soreness, but no serious injuries.

“The White House will continue to stay in contact with the federal, state and local partners as they respond to this event,” Obama said in a statement.

The incident marked at least the sixth Metro-North train derailment in the past two years.

A rescue worker stands atop one of the five cars that came off the track, this one having fallen on its side.

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- A rescue worker stands atop one of the five cars that came off the track, this one having fallen on its side.

On May 17, more than 70 people were injured when two Metro-North trains collided after a derailment near Bridgeport, Conn.

In July, a 25-car CSX garbage train derailed and damaged tracks on the Metro-North Hudson line near the Spuyten Duyvil Station — named after a nearby creek which means “Spouting Devil” in Dutch. The garbage train accident occurred about 1,700 feet from Sunday’s crash.

Dozens were injured Sunday after a Metro-North train derailed near the Hudson River in the Bronx.

NAOMI FINK- Dozens were injured Sunday after a Metro-North train derailed near the Hudson River in the Bronx.

Weener said NTSB investigators would look into the prior derailments to determine if there is a link.

An MTA spokeswoman said tracks in the area were thoroughly inspected after the most recent accident.

Rescue workers treat passengers injured in the Metro-North Hudson River line derailment that occurred on Sunday morning. 

RICHARD HARBUS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Rescue workers treat passengers injured in the Metro-North Hudson River line derailment that occurred on Sunday morning. 

“Right now there is no indication there was a track issue,” the spokeswoman said.

Dianna Jackson, right, comforts fellow Metro North survivor Katrina Frazier. 

BARRY WILLIAMS FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS- Dianna Jackson, right, comforts fellow Metro North survivor Katrina Frazier. 

It was unclear Sunday night when wreckage would be cleared and the tracks reopened. The NTSB gave MTA officials permission to upright the cars and move them.

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