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Casualty and train conductor in Hoboken train wreck identified

"One loss is too many losses" Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said.

At least one person is dead and up to 108 injured, some critically, when a New Jersey Transit commuter train failed to slow down and crashed into Hoboken Terminal at the height of Thursday morning rush hour, transit officials said.

At a press conference, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and transportation officials said that they know little about the incident other than that the train came into the station at a "much too high a rate of speed," did not stop, went through the barriers and "right into the wall," Gov. Christie said.

"We're not going to speculate about the cause of the accident," he said.

The one fatality was Hoboken resident Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, who was standing on the platform and was struck by falling debris, ABC7 reported.

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Of the 108 injured, three are considered to be in critical, yet not life-threatening condition. The majority of the injured were treated for cuts and bruises and released from local hospitals. Many had walked to the emergency rooms, while others were transported via busses, and others in ambulances, officials said.

One of the critically injured is the train's conductor, identified as 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher who was found slumped over the control board following the crash, Gov. Cuomo said. He is conscious and cooperating with investigators and will be interviewed soon.

Officials told Metro NJ Transit service into and out of the station is expected to be suspended for at least three days as they assess the "extensive structural damage."

Police and NJ Transit officials are mum on why the accident occurred. Reports said authorities are attributing the derailment to accident or operator error, but added that it's still early in the investigation.

Preliminary reports indicate the No. 1614 train on the Pascack Valley line, traveling from Spring Valley to Hoboken, struck the terminal building on Track 5 around 8:45 a.m.

The train went “over the bumper block, right through the depot” and came to a stop at a wall just before the station’s waiting area,” Michael Larson, a NJ Transit employee who was one of the first responders at the crash, told reporters during a CNN broadcast.

Dramatic pictures posted by commutersshowed a train carriage that appeared to have smashed right through the station concourse, collapsing a section of the roof, scattering debris and wreckage and causing devastation.

The Jersey City Medical Center was expecting to receive 50 people with injuries, 10 of which were serious. The center also has set up a hotline for families to see if any loved ones involved in the accident are among their patients. According to the New York Times, another 16 patients were transported to Hoboken University Medical Center, and at least one to Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

ABC News said on its website that New Jersey Transit was reporting many passengers were trapped. Fox News said the engineer, or train driver, had to be extricated from the front car.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told CNN by noon that all the passengers had been removed from the train and had been sent to two seperate hospitals.

Hoboken lies on the west bank of the Hudson River across from New York City. Its station, one of the busiest in the metropolitan area, is used by many commuters traveling into Manhattan from New Jersey and further afield.

A major transit hub, the historic green-roofed Hoboken Station is served by NJ Transit commuter trains connecting much of New Jersey with the country's largest city, as well as PATH, a more local subway-like service going into Manhattan, a local light rail service and ferry service to New York.

Matt Thompson, 25, who moved to Hoboken last week from Florida, was swiping his MTA card at a turnstile when he heard the sound of grinding metal and a loud “boom,” followed by a moment of “deafening silence.”

“Then I heard shrieks from people,” he told Metro. “They started running up the stairs, some on their hands and knees. Then a cloud of dust came up the stairs.

“I was frozen. I had no idea what had happened and was really scared.”

Linda Albelli, 62, said she was sitting in her seat in one of the rear cars when the train approached the station. She said she knew something was wrong a moment before the impact.

"I thought to myself, 'Oh my god, he's not slowing up, and this is where we're usually stop,'" Albelli said. "'We're going too fast,' and with that there was this tremendous crash."

Passengers helped each other off the train and onto the platform. They ultimately had to cross the tracks to get to safety, she said: "When we got on the platform there was nowhere to go. The ceiling had come down."

The injured sat on benches in the station while they waited for first responders, said Albelli, who lives in Closter, New Jersey. She did not know how many had been hurt.

"There was just so much, a lot of people in need of attention," she said. "There were a lot of people who were really hurt."

The train had about five or six carriages and was not full because many passengers exit at Secaucus, Albelli said.

Jaimie Weatherhead-Saul, a passenger on train, said the people sitting in front of him were badly injured.

"Once we got off we noticed people were stuck and had to come out windows. And the conductor came off and he was completely bloodied," Weatherhead-Saul said.

The Federal Railroad Administration said its investigators were en route to the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board said it would send its major incidents team to investigate.

In May 2011, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey train crashed at the same Hoboken station, injuring more than 30 people when it plowed into a bumping post at the end of the track. An NTSB investigation determined excessive speed was the main cause of the accident.

The worst passenger train crash in recent years in the United States was the crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia in May, 2015 that killed eight passengers and injured 186.

Train crash at Hoboken Terminal this morning, God bless the injured

A video posted by Marcos Sanchez (@marc_1043) on

Reuters contributed to this report.

This is a breaking news story. Please stay tuned for updates.

Send any photos or witness accounts from the crash to @metronewyork.

 
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