Early on Sunday morning tragedy struck the city as a Metro North passenger train lost control and derailed in the Bronx. Four people were killed and sixty three were injured with eleven passengers classed as being in critical condition.
This news comes on a day that authorities say is one of the busiest travel days of the year, when many New Yorkers were returning from family get togethers over the thanksgiving holidays. As medical assistants, police and helicopters rushed to the scene they found destruction on the tracks as seven cars had derailed along the Harlem River. In a swift effort to save lives over 130 firefighters arrived to help passengers who were trapped beneath the south bound train. Three men and one woman lost their lives in this horrific tragedy and our thoughts are with the family who are now having to deal with the grief at a time when they should be celebrating the season.
The accident is said to have occurred at approximately 7.20 am early on Sunday morning and was headed from its originating stop at Poughkeepsie bound for Grand Central Station. As the train headed into the sharp curved bend on the track known as Spuyten Duyvil, which translates to Devils Spout in Dutch Many passengers spoke of listening to music or peacefully sleeping as they passed through the leafy quiet spot close to the Hudson River moments before the accident.
Surviving passengers spoke of feeling a strong force pulling the cars to one side and the screech of metal before being hurled from their seats. The force was said to be so strong that passengers were somersaulted across the seats and landed on top of each other as smoke and debris filled the cars. The windows shattered under the force and one woman is seen to have gone through the window. Three of the four passengers who lost their lives were found outside the train cars. Some people suffered injuries from the flying debris, others became trapped in the tangled metal and had to be cut free. Others were fortunate enough to leave the scene with only cuts and bruises, whereas others suffered broken limbs.
Police sniffer dogs arrived on the scene to check for missing casualties and divers entered the freezing waters of the river to check for passengers that may have been hurled into the waters as the cars toppled and slid down the bank.
The reason behind the crash has not yet been determined and authorities are working to investigate what could have caused such a fatal tragedy on a track where many trains pass by without problem every day. The train’s engineer is currently being treated in the hospital but told authorities that the train didn’t respond when he tried to break before entering the sharp bend. The train’s engineer Bill Rockefeller JR has been working for Metro North for over fifteen years and is said to be traumatized over Sunday’s accident. Some passengers spoke of the train feeling as though it was going faster than normal and the possibility of human error hasn’t yet been ruled out. Authorities will be examining the tracks for any sign of abnormality or any clues that point towards the cause of the accident.
Thanks to the fast response of the medical teams, the firefighters and the police department all passengers have been accounted for and the chaos was quickly taken under control to minimize further risk and trauma. The president released a brief statement from the White House and said his thoughts and prayers went out to those injured and the loved ones of those who were killed.
The loss of life so close to Christmas has truly cast a shadow for many families over the holiday period and all we can do is to pray for those families and individuals affected by this unforeseen event. We can also be grateful for those medical and emergency service teams who responded so quickly and so professionally when they were needed the most. Those who survived this horrific ordeal speak of feeling saved by god and are very thankful to have been spared, they can go home and hold their families tight and pray for those families who were less fortunate.