Hoboken Train Engineer Has No Memory of Deadly Crash, Officials Say
The engineer of the New Jersey Transit train that smashed into Hoboken Terminal on Thursday killing one woman and injuring more than 100 others has no recollection of the crash, officials said Sunday.
Thomas Gallagher, 48, told National Transportation Safety Board investigators that he started work at 6:46 a.m., felt well rested and had his cell phone turned off and stored in a backpack. He reported that the train was traveling 10 miles an hour when it entered the terminal, vice chairwoman of the board Bella Dinh-Zarr said at a Hoboken briefing.
Gallagher also told investigators he was unaware of any mechanical problems with the train and has no memory of the incident – the first thing he recalls is waking up on the floor of the cab after the crash.
Signals on the tracks leading to the Hoboken Terminal appeared to be working normally and investigators who performed a walking inspection found nothing that could have altered the train’s performance, according to the NTSB.
A data recorder meant to document the train’s speed and brake information isn’t functioning, according to officials. A second recorder, located in the cab control car in the front of the train, cannot be extracted as it sits under a collapsed section of the terminal roof.
“It’s likely that it’s a newer event data recorder in the lead passenger car, the controlling car, so we’re hopeful that will have information that will be functioning,” Dinh-Zarr said during Sunday’s press conference in Hoboken. “We’ll just hope that the front event data recorder was working.”
Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, was killed in the crash after being fatally struck by debris. A mother and wife, de Kroon had recently moved to New Jersey from Brazil after her husband got a job with an international liquor company.
Earlier in the morning, she had dropped her 1-year-old daughter off at daycare.
“You just saw a smile on her face every time she came to pick up her daughter,” Maria Sharp, co-director of the daycare, told the Associated Press. “And that’s what I keep seeing.”
A 39-year-old woman who was in the first seat of the second car of the train has filed a notice of intent to sue New Jersey Transit after sustaining injuries in the crash.
Keri Gromley suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion, neck injuries and emotional distress, according to a claim obtained by NJ.com.
“She was clearly traumatized. It’s going to be extremely difficult after this to get back on a train to go to work,” Gromley’s lawyer told the online publication.
Officials hope the second data recorder in the front train can be reached in the coming days.