(Fairfield, Connecticut – May 17, 2013)
A New York City-bound Metro North commuter passenger train derailed in an area near the Bridgeport, CT/Fairfield, CT city limits where maintenance work had reduced available tracks from four down to two, and then struck a New Haven, CT-bound train filled with passengers heading home from jobs in NYC. The Metro North train’s hit the second train head-on before derailing all of its cars and sideswiping the rest of the westbound train, sending 60 passengers, five of them in critical condition, to area hospitals at about 6:10 P.M. Friday evening.
The trains carried a total passenger count of about 250, and passengers aboard both trains experienced a fearful, chaotic situation as those without injury attempted to assist fellow passengers with varying degrees of injuries.
Andrea Turner, 26, a passenger aboard the Manhattan-bound train recalled that “We were just riding along fine,” but then “We felt the brakes were pumping, and we felt a crash.”
The crash was terrorizing to New Haven-bound passengers like Natalie Sepulveda and her two-year-old son. “I thought there was a bombing,” she said. “I smelled smoke and looked outside the window and saw a whole bunch of dust, and I grabbed my son.”
St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Fairfield and Bridgeport Hospital were both admitting those injured in the collision. “Most had minor injuries but there was one with a more serious head and neck injury,” said St. Vincent’s Senior Vice President Dianne Auger, adding that her hospital had admitted a total of 27 victims of the crash. Meanwhile, Bridgeport Fire Dept. Lt. Ron Rolfe reported that one woman suffered a broken leg, while one man incurred “significant lacerations” on his leg.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Spokesperson Marjorie Anders said that “The train leaned to the left (as it derailed) and in so doing, clipped the train coming in the opposite direction.”
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said from the scene that “We’re most concerned about the injured and ultimately reopening the system,” further indicating that there was no reason to believe that the crash was anything other than an accident. However, as is standard operating procedure in the State of Connecticut, any accident of such magnitude is initially treated “as though it were a crime scene.”
In Washington, D.C. the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it was dispatching a team to investigate the derailment.