As best he can remember, the engineer driving the NJ Transit train that crashed into the Hoboken Station on Thursday morning said he was going the appropriate 10 mph as he approached the station.
Engineer Thomas Gallagher said he checked the speedometer and that he was going 10 mph as he entered the terminal, officials of the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday at a news conference. But Gallagher said he doesn't remember the moment of the crash and that he only recalls waking up amid the rubble.
The only “black box” recovered from the wreckage was not functioning at the time of the crash, and cannot provide any information that might help to determine the cause of the crash, officials said.
NTSB Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr stated that hope remains that another event recorder still lost in the debris might provide the crucial answers.
Dinh-Zarr called the examination of the crash scene a “game of pickup sticks.”
“Yesterday our recorders experts worked with experts from the manufacturers to access data from the recovered locomotive event recorder, which was built in 1995. Unfortunately, the event recorder was not functioning during this trip,” she said.
A walking tour and examination of station video to determine the cause did not indicate to investigators any sort of signal failure or potential performance obstacle.
Gallagher, 48, of Morris Plains, New Jersey, who has been a licensed engineer for 16 years, said he recalls clear visibility as he pulled in, checked his watch, and looked at the speedometer and found the train was going about 10 mph.
By all other accounts, the train carrying 250 came barreling into the station at a “high rate of speed,” according to officials. It blasted through the protective bumpers and smashed into a wall, causing the ceiling to collapse.
Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken and the mother of a 1 year-old, was the only fatality of the crash. At least 110 people were said to have been injured.
NJ Transit was being audited by the Federal Railroad Administration since June, which turned up records of 180 safety violations since 2011. Some of the incidents allegedly included employee drug and alcohol use, violating operational standards, according to media reports.
Data also showed that NJ Transit has been involved in over 150 accidents since 2011, reported the Associated Press. They paid about $500,000 to settle 183 violations, including $70,000 specifically for safety violations in 2014 and 2015.