A New York commuter train accidentally hurtled off its track Sunday morning killing four of its passengers and injuring dozens more. Based on reports of the New York Fire Department, the train left Poughkeepsie and was headed south to Grand Central Station in Manhattan but veered off the curved tracks as it neared the Bronx around 7:20 a.m. (1220 GMT) possibly due to over speeding. The resulting accident left four persons confirmed dead and 11 more were seriously hurt while 56 passengers suffered minor injuries.
It was not immediately known why the train derailed that left seven of its cars off the tracks and lying on their sides but one factor that is being looked into is over speeding. The front car settled just a few feet from the river bank coming close to dangerously plunging in the freezing water. The train was due to arrive at the Grand Central station around 7:40 a.m.
One survivor, Joel Zaritsky said that people were all screaming and he himself was thrown off the other side of the train. A number of the survivors sustained injuries in their heads or necks while others have broken limbs. Some were led away with bloodied faces and applying ice packs to lessen the pain.
According to a National Transportation Safety Board authority Earl Weener, their mission at the moment is not only to understand what happened but also why this accident has happened so that future accidents like this can be prevented. Weener also added that the black box or the “event recorder” has already been found and data is currently being analyzed. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo said that the black box “will say how fast the train was travelling and whether or not the brakes were applied.”
New York investigators are now looking at several factors on why the train accident occurred. Gov. Coumo said that the tracks seem to be fine when the train passed on it which leaves speed as a possible cause. Initial eyewitness reports indicate that the train was travelling faster than normal especially when it neared the curve on a downward slope going to Spuyten Duyvil station north of Manhattan. Frank Tatulli, a passenger of the train who suffered head and neck injuries said that the train was travelling “a lot faster” than normal. Based on standards, the speed limit on the tracks is 70 mph while the speed on the curve must be 30 mph.
Residents near the site of the accident said that they awoke to a loud sound or a roar. Angel Gonzales, who was inside his high-rise apartment when the accident occurred, thought that a plane had just crashed because of the loud sound created.
Authorities identified the dead as James G. Lovell, 58 from Cold Spring; Donna L. Smith, 54 from Newburgh; James M. Ferrari, 59 from Montrose; and Ahn Kisook, 35 from Queens. Three of the bodies were found outside of the train while the other one was found inside.
Rail authorities said that the death toll could be much higher had the accident occurred on a weekday or if the front car fell to the water. The Hudson line where the derailment occurred carries on the average 18,000 passengers on an ordinary weekday.
Based on records, this accident was the third that had happened involving the Metro-North Railroad in the past several months. Last July, a Metro-North train derailed just after leaving the Grand Central Terminal and last May, a collision occurred between two trains on a track in Connecticut. With this recent accident involving a Metro-North New York train which killed 4 individuals and injured dozens more, authorities must really conduct a deep investigation so that the guilty could be punished and prevent this from happening again.
By Roberto I. Belda