One person was killed and 108 were hurt after a crowded train slammed into a busy station in Hoboken, N.J., during the Thursday morning commute, officials said, vowing a full investigation into what may have triggered the crash.
The woman who died was standing on a nearby platform and hit by debris from the crash, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told reporters, adding that the unnamed engineer was “cooperating.” The engineer was pulled from the train “semi-conscious,” a law enforcement source told Fox News.
“We have no indication that this is anything other than a tragic accident,” Christie added. Investigators told Fox News they would review video from the terminal and from inside the train. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed a “Go Team” of investigators would arrive later Thursday.
People pulled concrete off bleeding victims and passengers kicked out the windows amid crying and screaming. Jersey City Medical Center reported 66 patients from the crash, according to officials who said 13 were in “guarded” condition. Doctors said they expected all the remaining patients to survive.
Hoboken University Medical Center received 22 patients, none of whom were critical, according to officials there. The injuries included broken bones and head wounds. Another patient was recovering at Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
Photos showed major structural damage to the Hoboken terminal, including a crumbled wall and mangled beams. The train came to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform, collapsing a section of the metal shed roof.
PATH commuter train service to Hoboken was set to resume Thursday afternoon, officials said. New Jersey Transit offered expanded bus and rail service to destinations near Hoboken, directly across the river from New York City.
New Jersey Transit hasn’t completed installing positive train control, a safety system designed to prevent accidents by automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast. None of its trains or tracks is fully equipped with the system yet. The industry is under government orders to install PTC, but the work has gone more slowly than expected, and the deadline has been repeatedly extended by regulators at the request of the railroads. The deadline is now the end of 2018.
The train that crashed consisted of four cars and one locomotive in the back. Local media initially reported three people had died before adjusting the number to one.
Hoboken has the highest percentage of transit ridership of any city in the country. More than 50,000 people use the terminal daily. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.
Commuter Jim Finan, of River Edge, N.J., told Fox News the train barreled into the station in “at full tilt” and “never slowed down.”
One emergency worker described a “horrendous exploding noise” and said passengers were crawling from the scene on their hands and knees. The man, identified only as Mike, told WABC the train “went airborne to a degree… The second half of the first car was completely destroyed.”
Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told the Wall Street Journal transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.'”
Speaking to Fox News, Christie praised the “seamless, professional” response from emergency workers in the minutes and hours after the crash.
Officials confirmed train number 1614 on the Pascack Valley Line, which left Spring Valley, N.Y. at 7:23 a.m. bound for Hoboken, crashed on Track 5.
Speaking on “America’s Newsroom,” Finan described the crash as feeling like he was “in an off-road vehicle,” adding, “It was bumpy. You were getting bounced around and then slammed forward.”
“People were running up the stairs to get out,” with “others pushing to get through first,” WFAN Radio sportscaster John Minko, who was at the station, told Fox News.
More than 20 ambulances sped to the terminal to take injured passengers to hospitals. New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson said the train carried approximately 250 passengers.
Most of the injured appeared to be passengers in the first train car or people waiting in the station, WABC reported. The train apparently was running late.
The crash unfolded around 8:45 a.m., a peak time in the morning commute for the New York City area.
A PATH train crashed into bumpers at that same station on Mother’s Day in 2011, injuring 34 people. A similar crash at the station in December 1985 left 30 people hurt.