NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Subway riders said they felt a jolt, smelled smoke and thought they were going to die when their train suffered a minor derailment in Harlem during the Tuesday morning rush hour.
A southbound A train struck the wall of a tunnel around 9:48 a.m., causing two subway cars to derail at West 128th Street, officials said.
“It’s like riding on the back of a bull, I mean you were going up and down, side to side,” rider Craig Sheil said.
“It was moving side to side, then the power went out, and you could see sparks everywhere,” said Michelle Ayob.
“There was pandemonium everywhere and sparks of fire all over,” subway rider Jude Amadicue told WCBS 880’s Myles Miller.
Kelly Kopp, whose white shirt was covered in soot, said people in his train car panicked.
“We ended up kicking the back window open of the train because we were all like this is it, we’re gonna get engulfed in flames,” Kopp said.
Trapped in the dark, passengers were then asked to exit the train and walk along the third rail, which had been shut off.
They were then all ushered upstairs single file to finally exit the subway at 125th Street in Harlem.
All passengers on the original A train were evacuated.
Several other trains which were also stopped as a result of a the derailment were also evacuated.
“We had to walk on the tracks to get out. There were some sick people, pregnant people, babies. It was a little scary, but for the most part we just had to be patient,” one man said.
“People were going crazy and it was very chaotic and traumatizing,” said subway rider Jazmil Genao.
“Some people started panicking when the smoke filled in, and they wanted to kick windows or doors,” one man said.
“It was crazy. We were stuck for over an hour. People were hot and sweaty,” another rider said.
“I definitely thought for sure I wasn’t coming out of there alive,” a woman added.
“I walked the tracks, very scary, the firemen helped me though,” another rider said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life and I’ve been in New York all my life.”
“It was horrible, it was horrible. Stuck down on the train, no air,” she added. “Whatever happened on 125th Street, we’re all stuck in it. But thank God the fire department got us out.”
Subway service was disrupted for hours and there were several minor injuries.