Metro-North Derailment Caused by Unsafe Speed?
Investigators Search for Clues
(Photos by David Greene)
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 2- Four people were killed and dozens injured when a Metro-North commuter train that departed Poughkeepsie, NY. and headed for Grand Central Station--derailed just a few hundred yards from the Spuyten Duyvil Station.
Teams of rescue crews were dispatched after the 7:20 a.m. crash that ejected three of the four victims from the train. Authorities estimate the train was packed with over 125 holiday travelers returning from Thanksgiving celebrations, when it crashed on Sunday, December 1.
One resident of the area, who awoke as the train made it's turn as it approached the station, recalled, "I thought I heard it speeding around the turn just before it crashed."
Multiple sources say the train's engineer William Rockefeller, Jr., 46, a 14-year veteran with Metro- North, told investigators that the air-brakes on the train had failed.
Police used cadaver dogs to search for additional victims in the heavy brush as scuba divers searched the water where the Harlem River meets the Hudson.
Many of the reported 63 injured were transported to St. Barnabas, Jacobi and Montefiore Hospital's in the Bronx as well as New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan.
Police have identified the dead as James Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, NY; Ahn Kisook, 35, of Woodside, Queens; James Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, NY., and Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, NY.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the crash site and Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly visited with many of the injured, including several off-duty police officers at both Montefiore and St. Barnabas Hospitals.
Bloomberg stated that the crash could have been much worse, telling reporters, "It could have happened later in the day, and on a business day when a train like that is full."
A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived on scene and immediately recovered the train’s "black box," that will provide crucial information as to what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.
Earl Weener of the NTSB stated, "Our mission is not to just understand what happened but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again."
The on-site investigation was expected to take a week, forcing the thousands of daily commuters along the Hudson Line to seek alternative routes. A detailed report on the exact cause of the crash was expected to take as long as a year.
The speed limit is normally 70 miles-per-hour along a straight-away before a 30 mile-per-hour limit as it approaches a sharp turn leading into the Spuyten Duyvil Station.
A train hauling garbage derailed back in July, a short distance from the most recent crash. That crash tore up the tracks and littered the line with tons of debris.
The crash was Metro-North's first fatal crash in its 30-year history.
Tags: Train Derailment, Metro-North, Commuter Train