On Friday morning, a packed subway train derailed in Queens, injuring more than 19 people, and trapping about 1,000 people underground for hours.
Passengers described a frightening scene just before the train came to an abrupt stop, the New York Post reports. There was a loud screeching noise and the “train was shaking and the cars in the front started tilting to the right,” said rider Melissa Delgado. Razi Levin, on his way to Manhattan, said the “metal-on-metal sound” was “really loud.” At the time of the derailment, the train was on a long curve leading to a downhill run with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
The trouble occurred near Broadway and 65th Street in Woodside. Six of the train’s eight cars derailed. Smoke filled the cars, causing panic attacks and breathing problems for many passengers, according to the Post, and many feared the train was going to catch fire. Power was quickly cut, shutting down the ventilation system and leaving passengers in hot, smoky cars.
After officials decided not to have passengers walk to a rescue train that would take them to the next station, more than 100 firefighters helped people through street grates to the surface, the Post reports. Angela Forbes, who was taken to Elmhurst Hospital to be treated for a knee injury, was concerned about medical bills. Her insurance company informed her she’d be responsible for covering the ambulance ride. “I don’t think I should be responsible for that, it’s the responsibility of the MTA,” Forbes said.
Crews worked feverishly to remove debris from the tracks before the evening rush, and service for the E and F trains was restored just after 5 p.m. It is unclear whether excessive speed played a role in the derailment, the Post says. The motorman and conductor are undergoing drug and alcohol tests.