Transportation Industry Sources ‘Baffled’ At What Caused Deadly Hoboken Train Crash

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Federal investigators are trying to figure out the cause of the train crash at the Hoboken station, which killed one person, injured over 100 others and caused serious damage to the terminal Thursday.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NJ TRANSIT train from Spring Valley, New York was traveling at a high rate of speed when the train — carrying 250 passengers — crashed through all of the barriers, slamming into the interior wall of the Hoboken Terminal around 8:45 a.m. Thursday.

NJ TRANSIT Train Crash: Photos | Videos | Transit Changes

“The train came in at much too high rate of speed, and the question is: ‘Why is that?”’ Christie said.

Fabiola Bittar de Kroon was killed when an NJ TRANSIT train crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29, 2016. (credit: LinkedIn/Fabiola Bittar de Kroon)

Fabiola Bittar de Kroon was killed when an NJ TRANSIT train crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29, 2016. (credit: LinkedIn/Fabiola Bittar de Kroon)

Witnesses said the train was moving at a high rate of speed when it failed to stop. As it entered the station, it continued beyond the tracks, sending the four cars crashing through a main concourse barrier, then launching airborne into the platform area, in a day that was unlike any other in the 109-year history of the Hoboken terminal.

A woman standing on the platform was struck by debris and killed, Christie said. The state medical examiner’s office identified her as a 34-year-old Hoboken resident named Fabiola Bittar de Kroon. She is a native of Brazil.

A total of 114 people were hurt, mostly on the train. Many are being treated at local hospitals, including 66 who were taken to Jersey City Medical Center and 23 taken to Hoboken University Medical Center. Carepoint Health Christ Hospital also reported treating one patient.

CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reports 13 people remain at Jersey City Medical Center in guarded condition with non-life-threatening injuries, and at least one of them had surgery. Fifty-three patients were treated and released from the hospital.

The hospital went into regional trauma center mode and sent doctors to the scene.

Seven patients remain at Hoboken University Medical Center in stable condition as 16 patients were released.

Sources in the transportation industry told CBS2’s Tony Aiello they are “baffled” and believe mechanical failure seems very unlikely. CBS2 has identified the engineer as 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher. He is a 19-year NJ TRANSIT employee, with ten years experience as an engineer.

Christie said the engineer operating the Pascack Valley Line train is cooperating with law enforcement officials in the investigation.

“We know what happened, we don’t know why it happened,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who canceled a trip to Israel for Shimon Peres’ funeral because of the crash.

“We’re going to work together to make sure that the investigation is seamless, and coordinated, that we come to a conclusion as quickly as possible and that if there are steps that need to be taken thereafter to provide for even greater assurance of safety for the people of our states, you can be sure that we’ll work together through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the MTA and NJ TRANSIT to make sure that occurs,” Christie said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said they are unable to get to all the cars because it is not safe yet to comb through the entire scene.

“The canopy of the building is on top of the controlling car, and water has been leaking all day, so there may be some structural damage and weakness,” Vice Chairman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said Thursday evening. “Additionally, because of the age of the building, there is the possibility of asbestos, so there are concerns about that as well. A contractor will be coming in to remove parts of the canopy.”

Dinh-Zarr said investigators are able to access the locomotive and will be able to pull the event recorder this evening. She stated that the engineer, who has been released from the hospital, was operating from the cab car, which is known as the controlling car.

“We’ve seen that it’s very unsafe there, there is potential structural damage. Fortunately the locomotive is not in the area,” she said, calling it a “chaotic” scene.

The speed limit going into the station is 10 miles per hour. Witnesses on board said the train didn’t slow down when it approached the station.

Investigators will be looking at the outward-facing cameras on the train.

Dinh-Zarr added they will look into whether positive train control was installed.

Dinh-Zarr said the NTSB will be looking at similarities between this crash and another that occurred at the station on Mother’s Day 2011 that left 30 people hurt when a PATH train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks.

They will also be looking at positive train control’s role in the crash. The safety system is designed to automatically slow or stop trains that are traveling too quickly.

“PTC has been one of our priorities, we know that it can prevent accidents, whether it is involved in this accident that is definitely one of the things we will look at carefully,” Dinh-Zarr said.

The NTSB will be on scene for seven to ten days and said it will be quite some time until they determine what caused the crash.

It’s still unclear what exactly caused the train to crash, but it left mangled metal, wires, concrete and other debris scattered all over the floor. Part of the ceiling also collapsed. A law enforcement source told CBS News that nothing has been ruled out as to a cause of the crash, but based on preliminary findings it appears to have been an accident — that the train derailed, causing it to strike the station.

“It simply did not stop,” WFAN sportscaster John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”

He also told CBS2 that there was “mass confusion.”

“It was a mass scramble to get away from the scene,” he said.

Train passenger, Lauren Berlamaino, said she was sitting in the second car of the train when it crashed.

“We were pulling into the station, I was thinking we’re not stopping,” she told CBS2. “The next thing I know, my head went forward, I hit the seat and come back to and there was screaming.”

She said many passengers aboard the train were standing because there weren’t enough seats.

“When we got out, the first car was completely in the terminal, the roof had collapsed,” she said.

WEB EXTRA: Witnesses Describe Chaos In Hoboken

One woman was on the fourth car when the crash occurred.

“I felt the train car like it was off the track and then the impact occurred. I was stunned. I had no idea what the front of the train could look like. I mean I had never seen anything like this in my life. And when I saw the ceiling coming down and it crumpled and the passengers in the first car with the glass broken trying to get out, I knew this was more serious than I think NJ TRANSIT had ever had,” Amy Krulewitz said.

Krulewitz added that no one in her car were seriously injured and that she’s worried about taking the train again.

“I sure am. Tomorrow I’m not,” she said.

Michael Larson, a NJ TRANSIT worker, said people were kicking out windows trying to get out of the train.

“The second half of the first car was completely destroyed to where they were crawling on their hands and knees and we were trying to get as many people out,” he told WCBS 880. “I assisted in maybe three or four people getting out and then the first responders came and told me to exit.”

CBS Evening News executive producer Steve Capus described the makeshift triage area he saw shortly after arriving on the scene.

“There is a triage set up here where people who have been injured are being treated and evaluated,” he told 1010 WINS. “I can tell you there are scores of people here, many of them with bloodied shirts, clothing, head injuries — I saw one person with what appeared to be a broken leg. There are also bringing more severely injured people out on stretchers.”

CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reports Christie and Cuomo toured the scene, saying it appears the high rate of speed is the key factor in the massive damage.

“Obviously, it’s an extraordinary tragedy,” Cuomo said. “The destruction is really significant and the power of the train coming in is obviously devastating in its impact.”

The governors praised first responders, onlookers and anyone who came to the aid of the injured passengers. They said the train’s engineer is in critical condition, but is cooperating with law enforcement.

Both governors stressed the investigation would be lengthy and that it was too early to know why the train crashed.

“We’re not gonna speculate about the cause of the accident,” Christie said.

Christie stressed that there is only one priority that will determine when the station can reopen.

“When we determine that it’s safe we’ll reopen the building, but we won’t reopen it a minute earlier,” the New Jersey governor said.

NJ TRANSIT rail service remains suspended in and out of Hoboken. The agency will be expanding bus, rail and light rail services as much as possible to accommodate the closures at Hoboken. The agency has released a detailed plan for the afternoon commute.

PATH resumed full rush-hour train service at the station Thursday afternoon.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is also accommodating passengers.

Click here for a full list of changes.

NJ TRANSIT said anyone with questions or looking for information about the crash can call 855-336-1774.


One Comment

  1. Pepina says:

    They have no idea of what caused the crash.. but, they’re absolutely positive it wasn’t terrorism. Ok.

  2. vinny says:

    as a career railroader in signal and train service, its clear. the engineer dozed off at the controls. period. just like the amtrak crash last year in philly at 105 mph. that engineer couldnt remember anything either. strange, it wasnt the signals, wasnt the tracks wasnt the brakes wasnt the lack of a billion dollar ptc system. the alerter should have dumped it to emergency after 30 seconds of no response from driver. this engineer gallagher, made $146,000 last year. ya think he was working a little too much overtime pushing the hours of service? guaranteed the master controller will be found in the series position. pretty easy to figure out really. complacency, over worked engineer is the cause. he dozed before the station and the train could dump.

  3. John Q. Publick says:

    So they can’t figure out what caused the crash? Nothing reported on what the engineer said? Yeah, ok.

  4. BKmart says:

    The train wasn’t built by Tesla was it?

  5. What??? says:

    What the h8ll is “prolly”, you illiterate fool? Where did you learn that word? Where have you heard it? From another illiterate? What does it mean? From where is it derived? Does it appear in the dictionary? When have you seen it in print other than when idiots like you have written it? How about “probably”? Ever hear that word? Have you ever heard of the terms “possible” and “probable”? Did you attempt to get an education in this country? You failed. Before posting on a nation-wide forum, it is a good idea to obtain at least a nominal grasp of the English language, so that you can keep secret the fact that you really do not have a working knowledge of the language.

  6. In this day and age, with the muslim president helping the terrorists implement their and his agenda of destroying America, Americans, and the American way of life, we MUST ALWAYS FIRST ASSUME TERRORISM. Only after terrorism can be ruled out 100%, should we look at other evidence or possible causes. The muslim president is constantly given information regarding planned terrorist attacks, and he ignores it. He was warned about planned attacks in the middle major cities, at shopping malls, and at transportation facilities. It has all come to pass. The muslim president, In keeping with furthering the cause of islam (which is his duty as a muslim), is aiding the terrorists by letting thousands of them into this country, protecting them, lying about what he is doing, and what their intentions are, changing society and making laws to accommodate them and the Islamic agenda, and forcing America and Americans to accept and facilitate their way of life through the threat of litigation. The muslims in NJ are plssed off because the city and the school board did not cave in to their demands to become “more muslim” and to recognize Islamic so-called ‘holy days’. The group that started the trouble was angered, as they told the press that the changes should have been made because they are no longer the minority–they are the majority, and their voices WILL be heard, and they are going to make certain their voices are heard, and that they are accommodated with changes to the whole system. The muslim president only has a couple of months before he is out, so he is doing all he can to make sure the terrorists have a strong hold in this country, and that they cause as much destruction as they can before he is outsted. That is why he released from Gitmo, just today, the muslim terrorist that killed 17 American sailors, and has been labeled by Homeland Security as a threat to America and Americans. That is why he called Islamic terrorism something that was merely fabricated by his opponents.

  7. Jack O'White says:

    At this time, it looks like the root cause of the accident is that the engineer of the train lost a sports bet with a commuter, and then had to let the commuter drive the train for the last five minutes of operation into the Hoboken station. Then the commuter confused the brake with the gas pedal.

  8. Johnn Galt says:

    And mohamed was hired when? And frequented which gay clubs in the area?

  9. Danno says:

    Why are the authorities so quick to call this an accident? Witnesses are saying that the train did not slow down at all. “Accident” isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Are they trying to hide something?

  10. Ted Nugent says:

    Engineers and conductors have to stop hitting on commuters for dates.

  11. JD says:

    Let me guess. Mohammed did the equivalent of “cut the brake lines”?

    1. Jay Farrell says:

      If you cut the ‘brake lines’ on a train, the train stops.

  12. Bill Williams says:

    Mass Transit: going where, and when, the Big Stupid Government says you can, surrounded by people you wouldn’t choose to associate with if given a choice.

  13. JackBootedThug says:

    Were any Muslims seen running from the area just before the crash? Are any Muslims assigned to the maintenance crew that may have serviced the train’s brakes? Have we accounted for all disgruntled Muslim chicken fryers?

  14. ilovevictoriasbows says:

    ‘but preliminarily it appears to have been an accident — that the train derailed, causing it to strike the station.’

    Um, maybe it derailed, causing it to strike the station because “It simply did not stop,” said WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash.

    Is the driver muslim? Did the driver just break up with his boyfriend?

  15. bryan says:

    That’s what you get with a crumbling infrastructure and parasitic politicians who mismanage everything.

  16. iambicpentamaster says:

    What Obama-Clinton-DeBlasio hath wrought.

  17. This is why I always choose to sit in the MIDDLE of the train so if hit or hitting something, you have the best chance to survive. The ones that died were in the 1st car.

  18. Depressed, disgruntled German pilot or one of the Obama/Hillary Islamic dreamers at the wheel.

  19. PETER913 says:

    The trip brake shoes on the tracks should have stopped the train from crashing. But since it went on into the “waiting” area makes me “guess” the train was going too fast. Why? Ask the Motorman? Was he texting, drugged, etc.

  20. Hubert Humphrey says:

    You go to work on a normal Thursday morning, and you wind up being carried out of a demolished train in a body bag. Looks like Donald Trump has one less vote come November.

    1. NY-NJ have been historically Democrat in the electoral college ,so prolly a Hillary supporter,and she needs every vote she can get, but yet it was a commuter train,and they were prolly on the way to WORK., so you maybe right

  21. Jason Stone says:

    Hard to believe this is possible without intent. We’ll see. But right now i’d say keep your eyes and ears open.

  22. Realist says:

    Everyone has one and only one question. Was it the muzzies?

  23. Let’s hope this isn’t a 9/11 repeat, where they’re using trains instead of planes. Because, you know, we learned from that and make sure to thoroughly vet all of the conductors, right? Right? Bueller?

  24. Mike Arvand says:

    “Hope and change” and constantly inciting riots and bashing America doesn;t exactly get our infrastructure repaired.

    Then again, dear leader never said it was going to be change for the better.

    Imagine if even half the money wasted on flying air force one around for golf outings and moochelles dresses and hotel bills was instead spent on repair and improvements. We’d have those star trek level levitating trains by now.

  25. Bob Roberton says:

    Its terrorism, of course. The only question is whether they were dumb enough to hire a koranimal as the conductor or if a koranimal managed to get to the real conductor.

  26. This is Hillary Clinton’s fault. I demand justice!

  27. Snarf Jabroni says:

    Were Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor on board?

  28. t says:

    where is the conductor?

  29. The Raven says:

    Was the driver screaming “ALLAHU ACKBAR”?

  30. jay10940 says:

    Hoboken is hobroken.

  31. Silly says:

    riding that train, high on cocaine

  32. Sounds like a possible terrorist attack to me.

  33. mohomed obama says:

    Lets say it together. muslim extremists.

Comments are closed.

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