Posted October 18, 2016 | Vehicle Accidents
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a deadly Hoboken train accident that killed one victim and injured 114 others on the morning of September 29. While the exact cause of the accident remains unknown, data recovered from recording devices reveals the train was traveling at speeds over twice the posted limit of 10 MPH in the moments before the disaster occurred. Philadelphia train accident attorney Brent Wieand will continue to post updates on the story as more information about the causes of the crash becomes available.
Hoboken Terminal is a busy transportation hub linking New Jersey to New York City, with over 15,000 passengers boarding trains at the station on a daily basis. Most trips pass without incident, but on Thursday, September 29, disaster struck for 115 passengers traveling onboard Train #1614, which operates under NJ Transit’s Pascack Valley Line. For reasons that remain unknown to the NTSB, the train slammed into the terminal at speeds of up to 21 MPH. However, the posted limit for that portion of track is just 10 MPH, less than half the actual speed of the train involved in this terrible disaster.
114 victims suffered non-fatal injuries. The lone fatal injury, which was caused by falling debris, tragically claimed the life of 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar De Kroon, who is survived by her husband and 18-month-old daughter. A vigil was held in Hoboken to honor De Kroon’s memory.
The NTSB, a federal agency responsible for investigating plane crashes and other transportation-related disasters, has faced several setbacks in their quest for answers. One of the two black boxes recovered from the wreckage was decades old and proved unusable, striking a major blow to the investigation. And the train’s engineer, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher, has stated he lacks any recollection of the crash itself, recalling only the moments before and after the disaster.
According to Gallagher, who has been a train engineer since 2000, Train #1614 was traveling at approximately 10 MPH as it approached Hoboken Terminal. While the NTSB confirmed a speed of eight MPH before the deadly accident, data recovered from the functional black box also shows that the vehicle’s speed nearly tripled, climbing to 21 MPH, about 38 seconds before impact.
The speed of the train is controlled by the throttle, which was moved into what’s called the “number four position” while the train was speeding. On the condition that he or she remain anonymous, one engineer agreed to discuss the throttle’s position with the Associated Press, which reported the following:
“The engineer said the throttles have eight slots, putting the fourth spot at about half power. The engineer said the throttle should be set to idle, or the first and slowest speed spot, when entering Hoboken Terminal. The tracks into the station run slightly downhill, so there would be no need to push the throttle any higher, the engineer said.”
It is almost certain that excess speed did played a major role in causing the accident. However, the NTSB has yet to officially determine or announce the cause of the crash. It may be possible that additional factors played a role. For example, investigators know that the train featured one less car than it normally would, affecting the train’s weight while simultaneously causing unusual crowding onboard. The train’s excess speed also activated an alarm and it is unclear to what extent that may have made a difference in the sequence of events.
Moreover, the underlying reason why the train was speeding is not yet known. Data from the accident shows that Gallagher engaged the train’s emergency brake system in the final second just before impact. Sadly, this action came too late to prevent De Kroon’s death, or the injuries to 114 other victims.
If you or one of your family members was injured in a Philadelphia SEPTA accident, an Amtrak train accident, or other type of train or bus crash, you may be able to get compensated for your medical bills and other expenses arising from your injuries. To talk about your personal injury claim in a free and confidential legal consultation, contact the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (888) 789-3161 today.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*