A Manhattan-bound Metro-North train carrying between 100 and 150 people derailed in the Bronx early this morning, killing four. At least 63 people were injured, eleven critically. The conductor, William Rockefeller, was among those hurt, though his injuries are minor. The Associated Press reports that three of those killed were thrown from the train, while the fourth was found inside. According to Metro-North officials, the train departed from Poughkeepsie at 5:54 a.m., and five of its seven cars went off the rails at 7:20 a.m., right after making a turn near the Spuyten Duyvil station.
Brendan Conley, who lives nearby, described the crash to the New York Post: “I thought I heard what I thought was a building collapsing…I came to the window and saw people walking across the tracks. Smoke was coming out of the second car that rolled over. I yelled for my mom to call the fire department. I stood there and saw 40 or 50 people come climbing out of the train on their own.” Governor Cuomo, who visited the scene this morning, told CNN that “it looked like a toy train set that was mangled by some super-powerful force.”
Frank Tatulli, a passenger who regularly rides the route, told WABC-TV that the train appeared to be going “a lot faster” than usual as it approached the curve. “The guy was going on one of the turns fast. I have no idea why…It [the train] left them [tracks] because it went too fast.” Another commuter, Dennis O’Neil, told NBC New York that he also felt that the train’s speed was too high immediately before the accident. “It was coming towards Spuyten Duyvil and you could feel it starting to lean and it was like ‘hey what’s going on,’” he said. “And then it hit the curb real hard and flopped over and slid down the hill.” However, a third passenger, Steven Ciccone, said he noticed “nothing suspicious happening on the train.”
According to police sources who spoke to the Post and the New York Daily News, Rockefeller, who has reportedly worked for Metro-North for at least 15 years, told officials that the train’s breaks failed.
MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told reporters that the curve is in “a slow-speed area,” and that the train’s black box should be able to tell investigators how quickly it was moving. At a press conference, MTA chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said speed would be “one of the factors” that authorities planned to investigate. A freight train derailed in the same area back in July, though officials said that they don’t think the two incidents are related.
Service on the Hudson line is currently suspended. Service on the Amtrak Empire line between Albany and New York City has been restored.
This post has been updated throughout.