4 Dead, 70 Hurt After Metro-North Train Derails In The Bronx

Monday Morning Riders In For Complex Commute

Passengers, Witnesses Describe The Horror

Riding in the third car Sunday, Steven Ciccone said he noticed nothing unusual prior to the crash.

“A day like any other day; It started to make a loud shifting noise, like with the tracks and the next thing I know two people from the other side of the train come flying over and fell on top of me,” Ciccone said. “I couldn’t believe we were flipping over.”

Like a grim lottery, seat selection suddenly became a matter of life and death.

“Because I was on that wall, I didn’t go through the windows when the windows blew out, so that was able to sustain me and some of the injured,” Ciccone said. “It was just complete chaos.”

For residents in the surrounding Riverdale section of the Bronx, the derailment made a noise that seemed to be everywhere at once. And outside a nearby fifth-floor window, the first four cars were seen strewn across the side of the rail, while the locomotive was seen directly below from the opposite side of the living room.

“It was just vastly loud,” said area resident Pam Markley. “I can’t describe the sound. It was louder than anything I’d ever heard.”

Steve Kronenberg, who lives nearby, told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller he was working at his computer when he heard the crash.

“I thought a plane was coming in,” he said. “I jumped away. Then after the noise stopped, I looked out the window and saw the train derailment, and I called 911 right away. They put me on with the fire department. I told them what had happened, where it was, so on and so forth. … I told them there wasn’t any flames. There was a little bit of smoke coming out from one of the cars, and they got here pretty quickly.”

(credit: Roger Stern)

(credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

Bill Sherman told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell the accident was so loud it woke him up.

“It sounded like crunching, grinding metal,” he said. “I jumped out my bed, and I looked out my window and I saw one of the trains on its side and one of them sort of teetering and smoke coming out from between the two cars. I actually thought it was going to catch fire.”

A Metro-North train derails in the Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013. (credit: squintysabre/Instagram)

A Metro-North train derails in the Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013. (credit: squintysabre/Instagram)

Mike Gallo, who also lives nearby, was walking his dog when the train derailed.

“A lot of people were able to climb out themselves,” he told Burrell. “A lot of people needed assistance. Some people actually had neck braces on. A lot of them had to be carried out and across the tracks into waiting ambulances. So it was dramatic and traumatic at the same time. It was not something you expect to see on a Sunday morning just after Thanksgiving. It’s not a pretty sight.”

The crash brought a small army to the area, inflating bags under the trains, cutting their way through the debris, and getting victims out any way they could.

“A lot of people were able to climb out themselves, a lot of people needed assistance; some people actually had neck braces on and a lot of them had to be carried out,” one witness said.

“There were a few like covers over bodies, and it was a horrible sight to see,” said area resident Romona Howlin.

Local, National Leaders Offer Prayers, Condolences

Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited with some of the derailment victims being treated at St. Barnabas Hospital. Echoing Cuomo’s comments at the scene, the mayor said the accident could have been much worse.

“If it had happened at a different time of the day, the trains would have been packed,” Bloomberg said. “They could have gone into the river. It seemed to stop just before that.”

Bloomberg said one victim, in a neck brace, was feeling well enough to joke with the mayor about his impending unemployment.

Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement saying President Barack Obama’s thoughts and prayers and are the friend and families of the victims, a sentiment echoed in another statement by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

“We must figure out how this happened,” Schumer said. “The National Transportation Safety Board was set up to conduct expert, complete and, most of all, independent investigations when a major tragedy like this occurs. To protect commuters, it is critical that they do their job with speed and certainty.”

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio also issued a statement about the accident.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of those killed and injured in this morning’s tragedy. I spoke with Commissioner Kelly this morning and my office continues to monitor the situation,” de Blasio said. “We stand ready to work with officials and authorities in any way we can to help those in need, and to learn the cause of this accident.”

Metro-North Service Plan For Sunday Night And Monday

The Metro-North will continue to provide bus service from the Tarrytown Station to the White Plains Station on the Harlem Line until 2 a.m. on Monday, according to a release from Metro-North.

Starting at 5 a.m. on Monday the MTA will provide a bus shuttle between the Yonkers Station and the Van Cortlandt Park-242nd Street terminus of the Broadway  No. 1 Train subway line, until further notice. New York City subways will be operating two additional No. 1 trains per hour during peak periods.

Hudson line tickets will be cross-honored on the subway, but anyone who does not have to travel has been urged to telecommute.

Special parking is also being arranged to accommodate additional drivers at the Southeast Station at the northern terminus of the Harlem line and at Kensico dam, the MTA said.

Riders can find more information at the MTA’s website.

Meanwhile, Amtrak restored service on its Empire line between New York City and Albany Sunday afternoon.

Earlier, a center had been set up for families to reconnoiter at John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill, but it was closed by Sunday evening since everyone had left. Anybody with questions regarding passengers aboard the derailed train should call 1-800-METRO-INFO. The original 718 number has been disconnected.

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