Riders, witnesses, Blumenthal react to fatal train derailment - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Metro-North riders, witnesses, Blumenthal react to fatal train derailment


Witnesses described the moments immediately following the Metro-North train derailment to Eyewitness News. 

A Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx on Sunday morning, killing at least four people and injuring 63 as the train stopped just inches from falling into frigid water.

"I thought 'I hope nobody's dead, but I'm sure there are,'" said eyewitness Peter Oehrlein.

Oehrlein said he believes he was one of the first people to see the train moments after it derailed.

"There was no people, no one was screaming from what I could hear," Oehrlein said. "But the fire trucks were already on their way. I could hear them."

Oehrlein said he was running along Palisade Avenue in his Bronx neighborhood and looked down to see the devastation.

The seven-car train and engine derailed in the Bronx and is the second crash for the rail service in six months.

"We need better investment in rail equipment and tracks, maintenance and operations, but also in the kind of answers that we need for this investigation to be successful," said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D - CT.

Blumenthal urged for a federal investigation "because this cascading series of incidences, some of them very tragic, are causing us to lose faith and credibility in rail transport," Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal, who is a member of the subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, said he talked with officials from the National Transpiration Safety Board.

"The black box and other data will give us some data, but the NTSB needs to provide those answers more quickly than it has in other investigations," Blumenthal said.

Eyewitness News has learned the last two cars, which were where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet, were from Connecticut.

"Riders are losing patience and faith, and so am I," Blumenthal said. "We need answers to the question, 'How could this tragic, horrific derailment have occurred, and what do we need to prevent these kinds of incidences in the future?'"

Some Connecticut travelers at Union Station in New Haven told Eyewitness News they agree with Blumenthal.

"They definitely need to re-evaluate, they need to invest more in these trains and they need keep safety a high priority," rider Emily Bourdeau said.

Metro-North rider Henry Cheung said he thinks Sunday's derailment could have "probably been prevented."

"As a person who takes the train quite often, I think that safety of the passengers is the utmost importance," Cheung said.

Sunday's train derailment is the second passenger train derailment in six months. In May, a Metro-North train headed east in Bridgeport derailed and was struck by a westbound train. That crash injured 73 people.

Just 11 days later, a track foreman was struck and killed by a train in West Haven.

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