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One person died, 108 were injured in the Hoboken train crash in New Jersey

By People Staff
Updated September 29, 2016 09:20 AM
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Credit: Source: Corey Fetterman/Twitter

The fatal victim in Thursday morning’s train crash in Hoboken that also injured 108 was standing on the platform and was killed when he was struck by debris, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced at a press conference.

The rush hour commuter train, across the Hudson River from New York City, “came at a high rate of speed into the station and crashed through all the barriers, bringing it right to the interior wall of the Hoboken Terminal,” Christie said.

The train collapsed part of the station’s ceiling onto the front of the train, officials said.

The fatal victim of the crash has not been publicly identified, pending notification of his family, said Christie.

The cause of the crash is unknown and under investigation, Christie said. The driver of the train is cooperating with the investigation, Christie said.

According to a NJ Transit News release, the accident took place at 8:45 a.m., when a Pascack Valley line train going to Hoboken from Spring Valley struck the Hoboken Terminal building on track 5.

Christie said there’s “no indication that this is anything more than a tragic accident.”

He added, “We don’t know a lot about why it happened. The engineer is cooperating with law enforcement.”

At an earlier news conference, Joseph Scott, CEO of the Jersey City Medical Center, said the hospital is treating 9 to 11 people from serious to critical condition, and 40 walk-in patients.

Jarrod Bernstein, a spokesperson for CarePoint Health, which runs several hospitals in the area, said 16 patients had been transported to Hoboken University Medical Center. Earlier Bernstein told CNN that patients might be transported to other area hospitals.

Christie said at an earlier press conference that everyone has been removed from the train and that there is no longer an ongoing rescue operation. He said later that authorities were examining the structural integrity of the building and that power in the building has been cut off for safety reasons.

Witnesses Detail Horror

Michael Larson, a NJ Transit machinist, tells PEOPLE much of the roof of the first car was smashed down to the tops of the seats. He describes the accident as “catastrophic.”

Larson, who had the blood of victims on his pants as he spoke, says only the first car of the train was impacted.

Larson adds that the situation was more dangerous because of exposed wiring resulting from the crash, compelling first responders to tell passengers to stay in place.

One witness told PEOPLE she saw severely bloodied faces and possibly gouged eyes. One first responder could be heard saying, “If you’re injured and you can walk, follow me.”

One witness, Joseph LaFalce, tells PEOPLE he had just entered the Hoboken terminal when the train came barreling into the station’s waiting area, taking down a support beam and part of the roof.

“I was getting off of another train coming into the Hoboken station and as I exited the train and walked into the station … I saw, all of a sudden, a train come off of the track, head into the station, basically jump the track and on to the area where the passengers were walking,” LaFalce says.

“The train never stopped, it basically kept going on the track, went off the track into the station – like, a waiting area – and in the process of that a beam came down,” LaFalce says.

Kirby Fisher, 31, was in the first car of the train that hit the station.

“I was in the first car. It didn’t stop,” Fischer tells PEOPLE. “When we hit, the ceiling came in and people were screaming all around us…. People were saying we should stay on the train but I just wanted to get out. I climbed out a window on the right side of the train.”

Fischer added, “I can’t believe this happened. I hope everyone’s okay.”

Ellen Simodejka, another rider on the train, said, “I’m shaking all over. I can’t believe this happened.”

NJ Transit, PATH and Hudson Bergen Light Rail Service service in and out of Hoboken station has been shut down, NJ Transit tweeted.

Machinist: Crash Not Caused by Bomb

Larson, who has worked for NJ Transit for 29 Years, says the crash was not a result of a bomb.

Christie said, “At this point [it] doesn’t look like anything more than an accident,” but said he would not jump to conclusions. He said there will be an investigation into why the crash happened.

“As governor you want to know how did this happen, to give an explanation to the people who are affected,” he said.

Larson told reporters earlier that the train was “going considerably faster than it should have normally been.” William Blaine, a train engineer who was in the station, estimated the train was coming in at about 30 mph, and it usually comes in at 10 mph.

Blaine described the accident, saying, “The whole place shook. Everybody got quiet… People were jumping out with cuts and bruises. I didn’t realize when I ran, I stepped over a body.”

Hoboken, a city of about 50,000, is directly across the Hudson River from New York City. More than 50,000 commuters use Hoboken Terminal daily, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.