December 6, 2016

Pedestrian Train Accidents

A New Jersey Transit train crashed into a station in Hoboken on September 29, 2016, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 people.

The accident occurred during a Thursday morning rush hour, leaving piles of cables, metals and other debris. Part of the terminal actually collapsed from the collision as the train smashed through a barrier at the end of its track, eventually stopping in a covered waiting area.

Train No. 1614 smashed through a station platform at Hoboken Terminal around 8:45 a.m. killing Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, who had been standing on the platform. She is survived by her husband and child.

Although early in the investigation, crash investigators believe the crash was either accidental or involved operator error.

Reports from the scene describe people crawling out of windows of the train, crying and screaming. Passengers reported that the train was traveling faster than usual when it entered the station.

The canopy of the 100-year-old plus train station building rested on top of the train that had come off the tracks and the NTSB was waiting until it’s safe to go into that area. Sources at the scene speculated that there may be asbestos contamination given the age of the building.

She says water has been leaking in all day and there may also be asbestos contamination because of the age of the building.

Investigators the next morning retrieved a black box event recorder from the train. The device is expected to reveal the train’s speed and braking. A second recorder that is located in the engineer’s compartment could add further evidence behind the crash. Investigators currently are unable to access it because of the collapsed roof.

There were reports of survivors trapped under rubble, as first responders struggled to free them loose. Some 66 victims were sent to Jersey City Medical Center. Most were soon released after being evaluated for injuries. Thirteen patients remained at the hospital.

The Hoboken University Medical Center received 23 patients. All but seven were released. At least one person was admitted to hospital with a fracture. The rest were in stable condition. Injuries included bumps, bruises and complaints of shortness of breath and chest pain.

Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, visited the crash site. Christie said the total injured stood at 114 people, including those with minor wounds requiring only a bandage.

News reports claim that the train was not equipped with positive train control, which is a technology designed to slow speeding trains. Most U.S. railroads have been ordered to install the technology but the deadline to complete installation had been extended several times. The latest deadline is now Dec. 31, 2018.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating and looking at whether the train was exceeding speed limits when approaching the station and when entering the station area.

A crash occurred at the same station but on a different line in 2011. More than 30 people were injured then when the train smashed into bumpers at the end of the track. It was determined in that crash that the engineer failed to control the speed of the train.

The Hoboken Terminal had undergone restoration several times, most recently in 2004. It was built in 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hoboken is NJ Transit’s fifth-busiest station with 15,000 boardings per weekday. Over 100,000 people use the station daily to commute from New Jersey to New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City.

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