The Amtrak dead: college dean, Navy cadet, AP staffer, tech CEO, bank exec

Their namers: Derrick Griffith, Justin Zemser, Jim Gaines, Rachel Jacobs, Abid Gilani

Rachel Jacobs, l, Justin Zemser (top, l, in uniform), Jim Gaines, Derrick GriffithFacebook; AP

Four Metropolitan New York-area residents -- and an executive who commuted to the city from Maryland -- have now been named as victims in the horrific North Philly Amtrak disaster that left at least two other so-far unnamed fatalities in the sad toll.


On Wednesday, the first two named were 20-year-old Naval Academy cadet Justin Zemser and AP video software tech Jim Gaines, a 48-year-old dad of two.


On Thursday morning it was confirmed that Rachel Jacobs, 39, a tech CEO from the Lower East Side; a beloved college dean from Medgar Evers College, Derrick Griffith; and Abid Gilani, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo, were also dead.




Dr. Griffith, 42, was dedicated to better educating his fellow New Yorkers.

He was worked for the City University of New York, most recently as acting dean of students at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and was founding head of CUNY Prep

"He was a scholar, a gentleman," college president Rudy Crew told CNN. His surviving son and mom “are distraught ...absolutely in distress mode.”

"There could not be a finer educator," Crew added. "He was an outstanding and very distinguished person who guided many, many students at Medgar Evers since 2011, and finished his Ph.D about a month ago and was really the source of tremendous motivation for all us in one form or another, he did so much for the students."


The Lower East Side woman was CEO of ApprenNet, an education technology firm in Philadelphia. She commuted there twice a week from Manhattan.

Her bio on the company website says: “Rachel launched innovative learning solutions businesses at McGraw-Hill and Ascend Learning before joining ApprenNet. She has an M.B.A from Columbia Business School and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.”

She was initially reported as missing and her family and co-workers held out hope.

Sadly, it was not to be.


Gilani was a senior vice president at Wells Fargo who lived in Maryland and also had an apartment in New York.’

"It is with great sadness that Wells Fargo confirms that Abid GIlani, a valued member of our Commercial Real Estate division, has passed away," Wells Fargo said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy."

He was a married father of two whose wife, Diane, told reporters that her husband was a "dear person ... a kind family man."

"We have suffered a tremendous loss today. He'll be sorely missed ... he was really a wonderful person."


Zemser, 20, was finishing his sophomore year at the U.S. Naval Academy and heading home to Rockaway Beach, Queens, his mom Susan said,

“He was the most wonderful kid,” she told CBS News. “Had a 4.0 GPA.”

“I know that the brigade, the Navy family is struggling with this,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. “Our thoughts, our prayers go out to family, friends and to the entire brigade for losing Zemser, a crucial member of this institution.”

"The Naval Academy is deeply saddened to report that a midshipman was named as one of the passengers who lost their life in the Amtrak train which crashed in north Philadelphia," the academy said in a statement.


Gaines, a 48-year-old father of two, had attended meetings in Washington.

The Associated Press wrote this about him:

“He was returning home to Plainsboro, New Jersey, when the train derailed Tuesday night. His death was confirmed by his wife, Jacqueline.

“Gaines joined the AP in 1998 and was a key factor in nearly all of the news agency's video initiatives, including a service providing live video to hundreds of clients worldwide.

“Gaines won AP's ‘Geek of the Month’ award in May 2012 for his ‘tireless dedication and contagious passion’ to technological innovation.

“He was part of a team that won the AP Chairman's Prize in 2006 for developing the agency's Online Video Network.

“He is also survived by 16-year-old son Oliver and 11-year-old daughter Anushka.”

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