Dozens hurt as commuter train derails, hits second train in Connecticut


by ABC News

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 11:21 PM

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (ABC NEWS) --  Approximately 50 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries this evening when a commuter train derailed near Fairfield, Conn., and knocked a second train coming the other way off the tracks, police said.

The accident and resulting investigation prompted officials to suspend indefinitely Amtrak train service between New York and Boston, as well as service on the Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven line between Stamford, Conn., and New Haven, Conn.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to investigate the crash, and was to be the lead agency in the investigation.

Officials “don’t have any reports of fatalities or life-threatening injuries but we have multiple reports of non-life-threatening injury,” Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, told ABC News Radio.

Bridgeport and Fairfield, Conn., police initially put the number of injured between 20 and 25, but later figures from police and the MTA put the number at about 50 hurt.

At least four of the injuries were considered serious, according to police in Bridgeport, Conn.
Multiple reports of injuries initially prompted officials to scramble ambulances from all over the region to the site of the accident, police said.

The accident occurred just east of the Fairfield metro station at approximately 6:10 p.m., when trains heading in opposite directions between New Haven, Conn., and New York’s Grand Central Terminal collided, officials said. The collision occurred after the New York-bound train derailed, knocking cars from the second train off the tracks.

Rob Oliver, a passenger on board the train that was struck, said he heard, “a tremendous amount of metal and just an extremely loud sound.”

“We suddenly were screeching to a stop, but you knew it wasn’t a screech-normal stop … because there was just an awful burning smell and the cabin was filling with smoke,” he said.

He added that he saw people being removed on stretchers with apparent neck or back injuries.
“I know some people breathed in some smoke, including myself, and I’m sure there’s people who have those sorts of [smoke] injuries,” he said. “Other people got injured coming off the train, because it’s a big jump down to the tracks and people were scrambling to get off the tracks as quickly as possible.”

The train cars involved were M8s, which were fairly new to the New Haven line.  This was the first serious accident involving the new cars, considered state-of-the-art.

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