Agency Says 80 Feet Of Track Repaired; 3 Passengers Suffer Minor Injuries

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NJ TRANSIT service on the Bergen line was restored Friday night, hours after a train struck a tractor-trailer in Garfield.

The incident took place near the Plauderville station at around noon. The train carrying 38 passengers and four crew derailed on impact. Witnesses said the truck driver escaped, after his trailer somehow got stuck on the crest of the tracks and then the gates came down, trapping the truck in the train’s path.

“The guy had stepped out of the truck, I guess he was stuck, so when he stepped out, he was like ‘oh my God,’ panicking and panicking,” neighbor Kimberly Ledesma told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

The impact left a mangled mess on the tracks, and a nightmare evening commute.

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Investigators were looking at whether the truck was too heavy or too tall for the posted “low boy” crossing, it’s tires possibly weighed down by its heavy load, Dennis reported.

The crash caused 80 feet of track damage, but NJ TRANSIT spokesman John Durso Jr. lauded his crews for doing all the repair work and removing the derailed train and clearing the debris from the tracks quickly.  The speedy cleanup meant that trains could start rolling again a lot quicker than many initially figured.

“They did it quickly, they did it efficiently and they did it safely most importantly,” Durso said.

The driver of the truck wasn’t injured, but three train passengers suffered minor injuries. Passengers told CBS 2’s Dennis that they could feel the train jolt forward when it collided with the truck.

“I knew we hit something, and I just went forward a little bit, but I thought we hit an animal or something, I had no idea we hit a truck,” Ridgewood resident Mary Roth said.

A NJ TRANSIT train struck a tractor-trailer on June 21, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

A NJ TRANSIT train struck a tractor-trailer on June 21, 2013. (credit: CBS 2)

The trailer, which was carrying a full load of plastic pellets to a nearby manufacturing company, was stretched across the neighboring tracks. Transit officials told CBS 2 that the pellets did not pose a threat to the environment.

“These pellets are non-toxic and pose absolutely no threat to the public, let me be very clear,” Durso said.

The front of the train’s locomotive showed some damage.

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