Four dead and 67 injured in Bronx train crash

New York, NEW YORK--Early on Sunday Dec. 1 a Metro-North Hudson line train barreled through a corner in the Bronx at more than three times the legal speed. As all seven coaches and the locomotive derailed from the tracks, about 150 people were thrown from their seats resulting in four deaths and 67 injuries (16 major). Monday night, the National Traffic Safety Board released preliminary data from the train’s recovered instruments which clocked the locomotive at 82 mph, well over the 30 mph limit for the curve and, more importantly, the 70 mph limit of the previous straightaway. Federal Investigator Earl Weener told reporters Monday evening that the data shows that the engineer cut the throttle and slammed on the brakes, but those moves came "very late in the game.”

"This is raw data off the event recorders, so it tells us what happened. It doesn't tell us why it happened," Weener said.

David Schanoes, a former deputy chief of field operations for the Metro-North line, told CNN that the data is "uncannily similar" to a July rail crash in Spain that left 79 dead. "I would have to see all the data from the event recorder," Schanoes said. "But clearly, from what has been captured, the train was overspeeding, and the request for emergency brake application comes too late for the train to be able to negotiate the curvature."

Photo from the AP.

The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators are focused on two potential causes for the Metro-North Railroad crash: human error or a mechanical problem. Authorities will be looking at the engineer's recent work history and will examine his mobile phone.

The Hudson Line carried 15.9 million people last year. About 150 were aboard when the train derailed, authorities said. King’s students are among those who use the Metro-North train system, as it is a main thoroughfare to Connecticut from the city.

King's student Noelle Meers (’17) said that she uses the line “a few times a month” as “it is very reputable.” In light of the accident, she stated she’s never had any concern before, though she will “be a little more nervous and cautious” in the future.

Tristan Kelley (’14) rides Metro North three-four times a semester. In terms of the service, he says it’s comparable to the NJ Transit and he “usually never has delays coming in from Connecticut, except for this Sunday when the train was running 15-20 minutes late due to the accident.” Although Kelley, like Meers, hasn’t felt a concern for his safety in the past, he says, “This along with the derailment this past May in Fairfield makes me wonder what more can we do to make the trains safer. Public officials should focus their efforts on upgrading these lines to make them safer and compatible for high-speed trains.”

In a statement issued Monday evening, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the data "makes clear that, as we suspected, extreme speed was a central cause of this crash."

"The lives that were lost yesterday are a stark reminder that protecting the safety of all New Yorkers must be our top priority," Cuomo said. "When the investigation concludes, we will make sure that any responsible parties are held accountable. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of the victims of yesterday's crash."

CityMichael Sheetz