Dozens were injured following a derailment and crash involving two Metro-North Railroad trains near Fairfield, Connecticut during Friday’s rush hour.
So far, 60 people have been reported as injured and five of those injuries have been classified as critical, according to The New York Times. Since, the Northeast traffic corridor has been severely hampered, with Amtrak operations between New York and Boston suspended over the weekend.
The derailment, at Connecticut’s Bridgeport-Fairfield border, involved an eastbound train heading toward New Haven. The derailment occurred just east of the Fairfield Metro Station at 6:10 p.m., said The Times. The train crashed into a westbound train on the next track, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said, adding that Metro-North service was shut down between South Norwalk and Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The cause of the derailment remains unclear; however, the MTA said police were investigating the crash “as though it were a crime scene.” The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also told The Times that it was sending a team to investigate the derailment.
Connecticut’s Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut said that one of the serious injuries was described as “very critical.” He also told The Times that, upon inspection of the trains, he noticed that the siding of one train car was torn off. The MTA told The Times that the crash took place where two of four tracks had been out of service over work being conducted on overhead wires.
The trains were being removed yesterday in early steps to make repairs and restore service, according to The New York Daily News. MTA spokesman, Aaron Donovan, said that the NTSB gave Metro-North permission to remove the trains, adding that hundreds of feet of track require repair. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, to restore signals and overhead wires,” Donovan told The Daily News.
Investigators are reviewing a broken rail section to determine if it has anything to do with the derailment and crash. Earl Weener of the NTSB said the broken piece of rail is of substantial interest to the investigative team and will be sent to a lab for analysis, according to The Daily News. The NTSB team, which arrived at the scene Saturday, is expected to remain for the next seven to 10 days.
A surgeon on his way to Yale-New Haven Hospital was on one of the trains involved in the crash and spoke to WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief, Fran Schneidau. Dr. Dan Solomon said that soon after boarding his eastbound train, the train struck the just-derailed westbound train, “It started to buck the same way it does when it’s changing tracks, but it just kept bucking and it started to get a little more severe and at that point people started to get more nervous and bags started to fall down.”
Smoke was moving into the car and passengers from the back of the train were rushing to escape as emergency doors were opened. The doctor told Schneidau that he was looking for the most seriously hurt passengers and pulled a woman on to the tracks. “The woman that I had rescued was confused and lethargic and had weak pulses and I was concerned she had suffered significant blunt abdominal and neurological trauma,” Solomon told Schneidau. The woman was among the very seriously injured.