Long Island Rail Road Train Derails at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn
More than 100 people were hurt when a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train crashed and derailed at Atlantic Terminal on the morning of Jan. 4. The train accident occurred when the LIRR train went through the bump block at the end of the track, causing the first car to derail. Fortunately, most of the injuries are reportedly minor. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the accident. The train accident investigation will most likely focus on the train engineer’s attentiveness at the time.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits involving accidents. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a train accident lawsuit.
According to Newsday, at least 103 people were injured in the LIRR train accident. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that the actual number of victims may vary because many train passengers left after the accident. LIRR says that the train, consisting of six-cars and carrying roughly 430 passengers, came from Far Rockaway at 7:18 a.m. Wednesday morning. The train pulled into Atlantic Terminal at around 8:15 a.m. on Track 6. Instead of stopping before the bumping block at the end of the tracks, the train crashed through it.
Reportedly, the train was not traveling very fast at the time of the accident. Cuomo said the LIRR train was moving at a “fairly low rate of speed” according to Newsday. “The train came in and hit the so-called bumping block and went by it for a few feet,” he stated. However, LIRR says the train speed limit at the station is 5 mph.
MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast said, “Obviously the train is supposed to stop short of the bumping block. It did not do that,”
Prendergast notes that, while there is technology in place that helps control the speed of the train automatically, pulling into a station would have been “primarily the locomotive engineer’s responsibility to stop the train.”
FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Dan Donoghue described additional details of the incident, saying that the wheels “lifted up” and the train collided with “a small room in the area that was at the end of the track.”
“I don’t believe anyone was in that room, and if they were, they must have got out quick, because that room sustained quite a bit of damage,” Donoghue said. He also said that the track “pierced” the bottom of the train, commenting “We’re actually fortunate we didn’t have more severe injuries.”
Daniel Nigro, FDNY Commissioner, said that most passengers left the train by themselves. “Those that couldn’t we had folks here to handle it and it was very well-managed and very well-coordinated.” he said, according to Newsday.
People who were injured were transported to Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York Methodist Hospital and Kings County Hospital Center. Fortunately, Cuomo said that most of the injuries are “minor”.
Brooklyn Hospital Center spokeswoman Joan Clark said, of the 31 people treated at the hospital, “Everyone is in pretty good shape,”
“Thank God this was not a worse accident,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is, thankfully, a very contained accident.”
LIRR Train Accident Under Investigation
Jim Southworth, who is leading the investigation, said NTSB officials will be interviewing the three crew members of the train. This includes the train engineer, who was treated for minor injuries. Investigators also obtained the train’s event recorder, which should shed light on the train’s performance, its speed and brake activity. Officials will be considering this data with video of the train arriving at Atlantic Terminal. “I take that data and we look at it very closely and make determinations about its accuracy,” said Southworth.
Cuomo says that the investigation will focus on the attentiveness of the train operator and on “why the operator didn’t stop the train before it hit the bumping block.”
“What happened with the operator, we don’t know,” he said.
Robert Halstead is a railroad accident reconstruction expert and investigator. He said investigators should look at whether the train engineer was distracted or tired at the time of the accident. “They have to really look at the last 72 hours — see what his sleep-rest cycles were, when he went off-duty last time — to see if there’s any potential issue there,” he said, according to Newsday. Halstead noted that the layout of Atlantic Terminal, which uses a “head house” configuration in which trains stop facing a station building, “does rely on human factor to successfully complete that movement.” even though the layout is not inherently a safety hazard.
The layout of the Atlantic Terminal station resembles NJ Transit’s Hoboken station, where a train accident occurred in September 2016. That incident left one person dead and over 100 injured. An investigation later revealed that the engineer had undiagnosed sleep apnea, a condition where individuals stop breathing multiple times while sleeping. Patients with sleep apnea may lack oxygen while sleeping, ultimately impairing everyday activities such as operating motor vehicles. Investigators determined that the condition could cause train operator fatigue and subsequently increase the risk of an accident. Last year, the LIRR began testing its train engineers for sleep apnea.
Cuomo said that the LIRR accident “is minor compared to what happened in Hoboken.” The incident is not expected to impact service.
Parker Waichman notes that another LIRR train accident occurred in October near New Hyde Park. More than 30 people were hurt.
The LIRR has seen a rise in passengers within the past several years. The increase in ridership is it at least partly due to the development of the Barclays Center. Roughly 10,000 customers go through Atlantic Terminal each average weekday morning. Atlantic Terminal is the second-busiest western LIRR terminal; the first is Penn Station.
Legal Help for Train Accident Victims
Parker Waichman has decades of experience representing train accident and other accident victims. If you or someone you know was injured in a train accident, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).