NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It was a frightening start to the holiday after an Amtrak train broke apart Wednesday night.
Hundreds of passengers were stuck for hours and not sure they would get home for Thanksgiving.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton spoke to a college student from the Bronx who was on the train and has never been more grateful to be back with his family.
“I was like ‘hey mom the train is gonna be delayed a little longer,’” Brandon Rodriguez said.
“She’s like what happened… ‘Well, it kind of came apart,’” the SUNY Plattsburgh junior explained with a laugh.
“All of a sudden the train starts shaking, left and right, up and down,” he described.
“The guy sitting next to me is holding on for dear life and when I realized what was happening I said ‘oh, this is it.’”
About ten minutes after Amtrak train 68 pulled out of Albany en route to Penn Station, two cars became separated with about 300 people on board.
Passengers say a fellow rider pulled the emergency brake to get the cars to stop. Brandon’s car lost power and heat.
As parents called Amtrak in a panic, the company called this a mechanical issue.
“I said ‘do you know an engine car detached itself?’” Brandon’s mother, Joanne Ortiz recalled about her conversation with Amtrak.
Shaken passengers were eventually put on a new train. By the time that rescue train finally pulled into Brandon’s stop, it was 11:30 p.m., more than three hours after he was supposed to get home.