HOBOKEN, N.J. (Reuters) - As New Jersey Transit train No. 1614 pulled into Hoboken, Linda Albelli realized something was not right.
“I noticed he’s not slowing down, we’re going too fast, and with that there was this tremendous crash,” she said.
Passengers and witnesses described a horrific scene on Thursday after the train, which was travelling south from Rockland County, New York, crashed through the Hoboken Terminal, a major commuter hub for the New York City area, at about 8:45 a.m. At least one person was killed and more than 70 injured.
Mike Larson, a New Jersey Transit machinist who was at the station when the train arrived, described a “bomb-like explosion” when it smashed through the bumper stop at the end of the track.
“It’s hard to believe,” said Larson, who had blood from a victim on his pants. “I’ve never seen anything like that in 29 years.”
Bloodied passengers escaped through the train’s windows, while others staggered onto the platform, which was partially blocked by a collapsed section of the roof. The 1907 station is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“People in front of me were badly injured,” said Jaime Weatherhead-Saul. “We noticed people were stuck and had to come out windows. And the conductor came off and he was completely bloodied.”
Witnesses interviewed on television said they saw one woman who appeared to be dead and several others trapped under rubble immediately following the derailment. Hundreds of emergency personnel streamed into and out of the station, carrying injured people on stretchers to waiting ambulances.
Bhagyesh Shah, a passenger on the train’s second car, told MSNBC it pulled into the station at normal speed and simply did not stop.
He said the first couple of cars are typically the most crowded with passengers seeking to transfer to the PATH train, which connects with Manhattan, as quickly as possible.
Lisa Hoskins, 43, of Hoboken, a regular commuter on PATH to New York, said a co-worker of her husband was on the train and said there was “so much blood.”
“I want to know what’s going to be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
Witnesses said passengers tried to help each other escape the train, many through windows, as commuters on the platform ran from the carnage.
“When we got on the platform there was nowhere to go,” Albelli, 62, said. “The ceiling had come down. There was just so much, a lot of people in need of attention.”
Additional reporting by David Ingram, David Alexander and Melissa Fares; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill Trott