Probe Begins After Connecticut Commuter Trains Crash - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

Probe Begins After Connecticut Commuter Trains Crash

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SERVICE ALERT FROM AMTRAK: AMTRAK SERVICE REMAINS SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY BETWEEN NEW YORK AND NEW HAVEN, CONN.

Amtrak service continues to be suspended between New York and New Haven, Conn., following an incident involving Metro-North Railroad trains near Bridgeport, Conn. Limited Northeast Regional service is available between Boston and New Haven, Conn.

Service will not operate between New York and New Haven, Conn., through Sunday, and there is no estimate on service restoration. A service update will be provided Sunday evening.

Amtrak service is operating as scheduled between New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Springfield Shuttle service between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., is also operating as scheduled.

 

 


 

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- Officials are describing a devastating scene of shattered cars and other damage where two trains packed with rush-hour commuters collided in Connecticut. They say it's fortunate no one was killed.

Seventy people were sent to the hospital Friday evening after the crash, which damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the Northeast Corridor.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy couldn't say when Metro-North Railroad service would be restored. The crash also caused Amtrak to suspend service between New York and Boston.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived Saturday and are expected to be on site for seven to 10 days.

They will look at the brakes and performance of the trains, the condition of the tracks, crew performance and train signal information, among other things.

NTSB board member Earl Weener says it's too early to speculate on a cause for the collision.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Two commuter trains packed with rush-hour commuters collided in a crash that sent about 70 people to the hospital, severely damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the congested Northeast Corridor.

Three patients remained in critical condition Saturday morning, with two of those stable, according to officials at two Bridgeport hospitals.

The crash happened Friday evening on the Metro-North Railroad, which serves the northern suburbs of New York City. Passengers described a chaotic, terrifying scene of crunching metal and flying bodies.

"All I know was I was in the air, hitting seats, bouncing around, flying down the aisle and finally I came to a stop on one seat," said Lola Oliver, 49, of Bridgeport. "It happened so fast I had no idea what was going on. All I know is we crashed."

About 700 people were on board the Metro-North trains when one heading east from New York City's Grand Central Terminal to New Haven derailed at about 6:10 p.m. just outside Bridgeport, transit and Bridgeport officials said.

The train was hit by a train heading west from New Haven to Grand Central on an adjacent track, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said. Some cars on the second train derailed as a result of the collision.

"We're most concerned about the injured and ultimately reopening the system," Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said from the scene about three hours after the crash.

A team from the National Transportation Safety Board was headed to the area to survey the crash site Saturday morning with Malloy, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and other Connecticut officials, according to Malloy's office.

Officials planned to update journalists on the crash following the tour.

Malloy said most people in the crash were not seriously injured.

The nursing supervisor at St. Vincent Medical Center said Saturday morning that 44 people from the crash had been treated there, and that five of those were admitted. One of the five remained in critical but stable condition, the supervisor said.

Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello said two patients were admitted in critical condition, and one of those was now stable. The hospital treated 24 other patients from the crash, and many had been released already, with the rest expected to be released by late Saturday morning, Cappiello said.

The Metro-North Railroad, a commuter line serving the northern suburbs, described the crash as a "major derailment." Photos showed a train car askew on the rails, with its end smashed up and brushing against another train.

Malloy said there was extensive damage to the train cars and the track, and it could take until Monday for normal service to be restored. He said the accident will have a "big impact on the Northeast Corridor."

Amtrak, which uses the same rails, suspended service indefinitely between New York and Boston.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said the disruption caused by the crash could cost the region's economy millions of dollars.

"A lot of people rely on this, and we've got to get this reconnected as soon as possible," Finch said.

Investigators on Friday night did not know what caused the first train to derail. Malloy said there was no reason to believe it was anything other than an accident.

Passenger Bradley Agar said he was in the first car of the westbound train when he heard screaming and the window smash behind him.

"I saw the first hit, the bump, bump, bump all the way down," he said.

Agar had returned to work this week for the first time since breaking his shoulder in January. And since he was still healing, he thought it would be safer to take the train than drive from his home in Westport.

The area where the crash happened was already down to two tracks because of repair work, Malloy said. Crews have been working for a long time on the electric lines above the tracks, the power source for the trains. Malloy said Connecticut has an old system and no other alternate tracks.

By late evening, Bridgeport Police Chief Joseph Gaudett said everybody who needed treatment had been attended to, and authorities were beginning to turn their attention to investigating the cause.

"Everybody seemed pretty calm," he said. "Everybody was thankful they didn't get seriously hurt. They were anxious to get home to their families."

The MTA operates the Metro-North Railroad, the second-largest commuter railroad in the nation. The Metro-North main lines - the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven - run northward from New York City's Grand Central Terminal into suburban New York and Connecticut.

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Associated Press writers Michael Melia in Hartford, Conn., and Susan Haigh in Fairfield, Conn., contributed to this report.

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