NTSB launches investigation into fatal Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx
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The National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into a fatal Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx Sunday, officials said.
Officials with the NTSB began their investigation just hours after a southbound train traveling from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to Grand Central derailed around 7:20 a.m., 100 yards from the Spuyten Duyvil station. The train carried some 120 passengers.
A law enforcement official said four people died and at least 70 more were injured during the derailment. They are the first fatalities in Metro-North’s nearly 31 years, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Two of the dead were found outside the train cars, MTA spokesman Stephen Morello said.
The youngest fatality was Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens, who worked as a nurse in Brooklyn, according to the MTA and the official said. Donna Smith, 54 of Newburgh, N.Y., James Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, N.Y., and James Ferrari, 58, of Montrose, N.Y., also died in the derailment.
More bodies may be underneath the seven derailed train cars, the official said. The NTSB approved for cranes to lift the cars and Morello said this may happen late Sunday or early Monday.
“The MTA wants to know, as much as anyone, what happened with this accident, if there’s a lesson to be learned, because safety is job one,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We want to see the trains perform and perform on time, but safety is job one.”
The train left Poughkeepsie around 5:54 a.m., officials said. The entire train, seven cars and the locomotive, derailed during a long curve on the Hudson line. The locomotive pushed the cars forward from the back of the train.
The speed limit for that curve is 30 mph, but there is a 70 mph zone immediately before the curve, according to NTSB member Earl Weener.
From a winding roadway overlooking the tracks, the overturned train cars could be seen several feet from the curved rails, some close to the water’s edge where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet.
The curved track, along with the train’s speed, route signals and other factors will be investigated by the NTSB over the next seven to 10 days, Weener said.
The NTSB has not spoken with the train’s engineer, but Morello said that he was conscious and speaking at a hospital where he was taken.
An inter-agency meeting will be held Sunday night with police and fire officials, the city’s Office of Emergency Management, MTA and the NTSB.
The MTA will provide information to the NTSB, which will conduct their own independent investigation.
“Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again,” Weener said.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat