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Data Recorders are Analyzed by NTSB to Determine the Cause of Derailment in NYC
The National Transportation Safety Board is analyzing data from recorders taken from the commuter train that derailed Sunday morning in New York City. They are trying to determine whether a mechanical problem, excessive speed or human error is to blame in the horrible accident.
The train derailment happened near the Spuyten Duyvil station in The Bronx on the Metro-North’s Hudson Line, and it caused the train’s locomotive and some of the other cars to topple over and leave one of the lead cars very close to the water. Four people are confirmed dead and at least 60 were injured, according to the authorities. The Spuyten Duyvil station is located at a sharp bend where the Harlem and Hudson rivers meet.
Earl Weener, a National Transportation Safety Board member, said Monday morning that a second event recorder was found in the front car and it has been sent to Washington for analysis. There is another recorder, an event recorder and that was found in the rear locomotive earlier on.
Weener said investigators hope they can download information from the memory cards from the recorder on Monday. The investigators hope it will provide information on the trains’ speed and how the brakes were applied and the throttle setting.
He also told The Associated Press they’ve had success in retrieving some of the data, but the information must be validated before it is made public. The National Transportation Safety Board has said it could take as many as 10 days to fully investigate the accident.
Investigators are planning to conduct interviews on Monday or Tuesday with the engineer and conductor of the train. Clues could also be found from a signaling system that is operated by dispatchers at a central location.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show; he thinks speed will turn out to be the factor in the derailment. “It was actually much worse than it looked” he said. “As the cars were skidding across the ground, they were actually picking up a lot of debris, a lot of dirt and stones and tree limbs were going through the cars so it actually looked worse up close,” he said, calling it “your worst nightmare.”
According to The New York Post, they identified the operator of the train as William Rockefeller of Rockland County, N.Y. citing law enforcement sources, the paper reported that Rockefeller insisted to investigators that he tried to hit the brakes while going into the Spuyten Duyvil bend, but they didn’t work. The New York post also said they described Rockefeller as a 20-year veteran with a clean disciplinary record.
In Rockefeller’s neighborhood one of his neighbors, 52-year-old Tracy Pool said “Rockefeller is an avid motorcyclist who likes to live life on the edge.” Pool also said “I wouldn’t say he’s such a speed demon but he always stayed within the speed limit with his trains.” The speed limit on the curve is 30 mph, compared with 70 mph in the area approaching it, Weener said.
One passenger, Frank Tatulli, told WABC-TV that “the train appeared to be going a lot faster than usual as it approached the sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil Station.” Joel Zaritsky, on his way to a dental convention in New York City, was a passenger bloodied from the wreck said ” I was asleep and I woke up when the car started rolling several times, then I saw the ground coming at me, and I heard people screaming. There was smoke and debris everywhere; people were thrown to the other side of the train.”
The Metropolitan transportation Authority (MTA) of New York which oversees Metro-North, stated to commuters to expect crowded and delayed trains thru Monday. Also it said that the Hudson Line service would operate on a limited basis between Poughkeepsie and Yonkers, and shuttle buses would take commuters heading farther south to the 242nd street subway station. Northbound commuters were told to take the subway to 242nd street, where there will be a shuttle bus to take them to Yonkers. Passengers were urged to take the Harlem and New Haven lines into Grand Central Station. The MTA said Hudson line tickets will be honored on those lines.
A Metro-North spokesman, Aaron Donovan, said no major delays were reported during the earlier part of the rush hour. The governor said “We’d like to get service up toward the end of the week,”
The MTA Police Department identified the deceased on Sunday as Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens, N.Y., Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh, N.Y., James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y. and James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, N.Y. Three of the dead passengers were found on the outside of the train, and one was found inside authorities said. The New York City’s medical examiner’s office said autopsies were scheduled for Monday.
According to the Fire Department of New York City eleven others were in critical condition and six more were seriously injured. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after visiting an area hospital Sunday Evening, none of the 11 injured appeared to have life-threatening injuries.
Rescuers were frantic to find passengers, they were shattering windows and searching the nearby wooded area and waters and used pneumatic jacks and air bags to look under the wreckage. Passengers were bloodied and scratched was they were removed from the wreckage. About 150 people were on board when the train derailed and MTA spokesman Donovan said the railroad believes everyone on board has been accounted for.
“One approached the water and came close, but did not go in,” Donovan told FoxNews.com. He said a locomotive was pushing the train from behind although the operating engineer who controlled the train was stationed in the front of the first passenger car.
Workers had five passenger cars and the locomotive back on the track by 9:30a.m. “It’s going to be a long time before this is cleared up,” MTA spokeswoman Marjorie Anders told Fox News. “It was not a hugely crowded train,” she added.
A representative from The New York Presbyterian Hospital said the hospital received 18 patients from the derailment. Four patients received at New York Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital were evaluated, treated and released on Sunday, December 1, 2013 and seven have been admitted for further treatment. Two patients remained in critical condition.12 passengers have been taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, 2 were in critical condition and 10 were in stable condition, Dr. Ernest Patti of St. Barnabas Hospital said. The injuries mostly suffered were broken bones, compound fractures and broken ribs.
According to MTA’s spokesman Donovan, this was an express train and it was not due to stop at the Spuyten Duyvil station. The incident was just south of another train derailment in mid-July. Metro-North never before experienced a passenger death during an accident in its 31-year history. It’s come six months after a train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., and was hit by another train. 73 passengers, including two engineers and a conductor were hurt.
The NTSB has been urging railroads to install new technologies that can stop derailing caused by excessive speed and other problems. Congress passed a rail safety law that gives commuter and freight railroads until the end of 2015 to install the systems, known as positive train control. It’s aimed at preventing human error, the cause of about 40 percent of train accidents. Railroads say the systems are expensive and complicated. Railroads want to push back the installation deadline to five or more years.
Metro North is in the process of installing the new technology and now has a “automatic train control” signal system which automatically applies the brakes if an engineer fails to respond to an alert that indicates excessive speed.Data Recorders are Analyzed by NTSB to Determine the Cause of Derailment in NYC by Jaan