Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

May 19, 2013

Official: Broken rail eyed in Conn. train crash

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The commuter train derailment and collision that left dozens injured outside New York City was not the result of foul play, officials said Saturday, but a fractured section of rail is being studied to determine if it is connected to the accident.

National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said Saturday the broken rail is of substantial interest to investigators and a portion of the track will be sent to a lab for analysis.

Weener said it’s not clear if the accident caused the fracture or if the rail was broken before the crash. He said he won’t speculate on the cause of the derailment and emphasized the investigation was in its early stages.

Seventy-two people were sent to the hospital Friday evening after a Metro-North train heading east from New York City derailed and was hit by a train heading west from New Haven. Most have been discharged.

Officials earlier described devastating damage and said it was fortunate no one was killed.

“All of the injured people described the really harrowing experience of having the train jolt to a stop, the dust, darkness, other kinds of factors that made it particularly frightening,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who visited several patients in the hospital.

Blumenthal said a Metro-North conductor helped passengers despite her own injuries.

“Her story is really one of great strength and courage helping other passengers off the train in spite of her own very severe pain,” Blumenthal said. “She eventually had to be helped off herself.”

The crash damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the Northeast Corridor. The crash also caused Amtrak to suspend service between New York and Boston.

“The damage is absolutely staggering,” Blumenthal said, describing the shattered interior of cars and tons of metal tossed around. “I feel that we are fortunate that even more injuries were not the result of this very tragic and unfortunate accident.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said it was “frankly amazing” people weren’t killed on scene.

Both said new Metro-North Railroad cars built with higher standards may have saved lives.

Metro-North said train service will remain suspended between South Norwalk and New Haven until further notice. Railroad officials said rebuilding the two tracks and restore train service “will take well into next week.”

“We want our customers to know that while you travel on Metro-North, you can remain confident that your safety, and the safety of our employees, is always the first priority in everything we do,” said Howard Permut, President of MTA Metro-North Railroad.

NTSB investigators arrived Saturday and are expected to be on site for seven to 10 days. They will look at the brakes and performance of the trains, the condition of the tracks, crew performance and train signal information, among other things.

When the NTSB has concluded the on-site phase of its investigation, Metro-North will begin to remove the damaged rail cars and remaining debris. The process requires specialized, heavy equipment that will be in place by Sunday, officials said. Only after the damaged train cars have been removed can Metro-North begin the work of rebuilding the damaged tracks and overhead wires.

“It is a significant undertaking that could take days to complete,” MTA said in a statement.

The NTSB has allowed Metro-North to begin removing some of the track and wire from the scene.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said commuters should make plans for alternative travel through the area and urged them to consult the state Department of Transportation website for information.

Weener said data recorders on board are expected to provide the speed of the trains at the time of the crash and other information.

“Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened and determine ways of preventing it from happening again,” Weener said.

About 700 people were on board the Metro-North trains when one heading east from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal to New Haven derailed at about 6:10 p.m. just outside Bridgeport, transit and Bridgeport officials said. Passengers described a chaotic, terrifying scene of crunching metal and flying bodies.

A spokeswoman for St. Vincent Medical Center said late Saturday that 46 people from the crash were treated there, with six of them admitted. All were in stable condition, she said.

A Bridgeport Hospital spokesman said 26 people from the crash were treated there, with three of them admitted. One was in critical condition and two were in stable condition, he said. The other 23 were released.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said the disruption caused by the crash could cost the region’s economy millions of dollars.

Passenger Frank Bilotti said he was returning from a business trip in Boston on the westbound train when it crashed.

“Everybody was pretty much tossed around,” said Bilotti, 53, of Westport, who wasn’t injured other than a sore neck.

Firefighters used ladders to help people evacuate after the derailed cars dug into the banks of the tracks, Bilotti said.

“There were people on stretchers,” he said. “There were people lying on the ground.”

Blumenthal credited first responders, saying their “quick reactions and heroic efforts undoubtedly saved lives.”

The MTA operates the Metro-North Railroad, the second-largest commuter railroad in the nation. The Metro-North main lines — the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven — run northward from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal into suburban New York and Connecticut.

At Grand Central, Frances Liu and her family were trying to get to New Haven, where Liu is graduating from Yale. A train could get them only as far north as Stamford.

“And then we’ll rent a car and drive,” she said.

Liu’s parents had flown in from China for her graduation and were touring the country around her commencement. But the car-rental plan could face a snag — Liu never got a driver’s license, although her parents had their Chinese licenses.

“My mom can drive. So I hope it’ll be OK!” Liu said as she rushed off to decide on a train.

The last significant train collision involving Metro-North occurred in 1988 when a train engineer was killed in Mount Vernon, N.Y., when one train empty of passengers rear-ended another, railroad officials said.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Lake Park considers millage rate increase

    Lake Park has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will result in a 29.64 percent increase in property taxes.

    July 28, 2014

  • Free Health Fair slated for August 9th

    A free health fair hosted by the 100 Black Men of Brooks-Grady-and-Thomas Counties, Inc. and sponsored by Archbold Hospital will take place on August 9th  from 8:00am until 12 noon.

    July 28, 2014

  • BtpsXVpIgAEXKB-.jpg Manhunt underway for drivers of stolen dump truck

    This morning, around 8:00 deputies from the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a dump truck traveling south on I-75.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpeg Gas leak on West Adair

    A gas leak has occured on West Adair Street, between Tombs and Oak Street. The leak began just after 11 a.m.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commercial driver training program expanding

    Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell announced recently an expansion of the commercial driver training program administered by the Agency’s Regulatory Compliance Division. DDS will now offer a Commercial Driver License (CDL) Instructor Training Class for customers who have applied to be CDL instructors. The session will provide additional guidance as the applicants prepare for the final exam.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • Heat advisory for much of South Georgia

    A heat advisory is in place for much of South Georgia until 7 p.m.

    July 27, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results