According to media reports at least 4 people were killed and 60 injured after a Metro-North commuter train jumped a curved section of track just outside of New York City Sunday morning. The train was en route to Grand Central from Poughkeepsie, 74 miles up the Hudson River, when it derailed about 7:20 a.m.
During the press conference the FDNY confirmed the 4 deaths and added that there were also at least 67 people injured, 11 seriously. Of the 4 people killed, there were two men and two women. Three died after being thrown from the train, which left the tracks at a known blackspot, while a fourth was killed inside a carriage.
Officials say some of the passengers were “impaled” by debris as the train derailed, while others had to be cut free from the tangle of metal and suitcases on board. Many survivors had broken limbs or injuries to their heads or necks, with some being led away with bloodied faces, applying ice packs to try and ease the pain.
The Metro-North train’s locomotive and carriages derailed as the train went into a bend in the railway line near Spuyten Duyvil station. Reportedly the train appeared to be going “a lot faster” than normal as it approached the bend coming into the station. None of the carriages went into the adjacent Hudson or Harlem rivers – although pictures from the scene suggest this nearly happened.
“It’s a very tragic situation,” Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters at the scene. “The first order of business is to care for the people who were on the train”.
About 150 people were on the train when it derailed, said Laureen Coyne, director of risk management for New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, which includes the Metro-North railroad. One car came to rest just feet away from the Harlem River.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the National Transportation Safety Board are currently investigating the accident. Investigators combed the scene and announced that a “multi-disciplinary team” would probe everything from the condition of the tracks to the signaling systems and the brakes.
“Our mission is to understand not just what happened, but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again,” Earl Weener, a National Transportation Safety Board official, told reporters.
Weener said the a so-called black box or “event recorder” had been recovered and that data had been downloaded from the locomotive but not yet analyzed.
The black box “will say how fast the train was traveling and whether or not the brakes were applied,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in earlier remarks to broadcaster MSNBC.
The train crew and conductor would be interviewed in the coming days, Weener said, adding that he expected investigators to be at the scene for up to 10 days.
Two women and two men were killed in the crash, a law enforcement source said. Authorities later identified the victims as Donna L. Smith, 54; James G. Lovell, 58; James M. Ferrari, 59; and Ahn Kisook, 35. Autopsies were scheduled for Monday, said the New York City medical examiner’s office.
Among the dead was James Lovell, 58, husband of a councilwoman in Philipstown in Putnam County. A father of four, a survivor of cancer and a screenwriter, he was also a lighting designer, says the NY Daily News.
“Words can’t express how much my father meant to me,” his son Finn Lovell wrote on Twitter. “It’s safe to say he molded me into the man I am today. I love you and miss you. I can’t believe your [sic] gone. This feels like an awful nightmare that I can’t wake up from.”
A section of line between the Bronx and part of Westchester County could be closed for a week or more and Governor Cuomo warned commuters to expect long delays.