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A New Jersey Transit spokeswoman says that more than 100 people were injured, some critically, when a commuter train plowed into the Hoboken station. (Sep. 29)
AP

HOBOKEN, N.J. — More than 100 people were injured, some critically, when a commuter train slammed into a rail station Thursday, NJ Transit officials said.

State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who represents Hoboken, told the Associated Press that at least one person was killed and two were critically injured. Local media, including NBC and CBS network affiliates, were reporting that three people died in the crash.

Photos from the scene show a damaged New Jersey Transit rail car inside the battered station amid mangled steel, cables and concrete. The crash occurred during morning rush, at about 8:30 a.m. ET.

People on the train realized the train was moving too fast as it approached the station, passenger Jamie Weatherhead-Saul said.

“It didn’t stop. It didn’t slow down,” she said. “The train just kept going.”

When it crashed, she felt the impact and heard people screaming from the first car. She was between the first and second cars and was shaken up but not injured. She said she was able to exit the train after a conductor lifted an emergency latch.

Mike Larson, a 29-year-employee of NJ Transit, said he was about 30 feet away from the train when it crashed. He said the train slammed into a bumper block at the end of the track, then roared onto a concourse. He tried to discourage passengers from kicking out windows to escape, warning them to wait until power was cut to the tangle of wires and cables exposed by the crash.

“I heard a bomb-like explosion… then the train was right in front of me,” Larson said.  “It was chaotic. It was pretty horrifying.”

Chris Mann, 34, said he was less than 100 feet from the train when he heard the crash.

“By the time I turned around and registered the train was coming, it had already completely crossed to the pedestrian walkway,” Mann said. “It all seemed to be very fast.”

Moments later he saw passengers climbing out from the train’s windows.

“People were crying and one woman … was bleeding but a lot of people were still filing in unaware,” Mann said. “The first responders were here very fast.”

All PATH service at the Hoboken station was suspended, the agency said. NJ Transit suspended service in and out of Hoboken and said its buses and private carriers were cross-honoring tickets and passes.

“Obviously this is an ongoing investigation,” said Jennifer Nelson, director of media relations for NJ Transit. She said the cause of the crash had not been determined.  About 15,000 people board trains every weekday at Hoboken station.

Steve Mesiano, a passenger in the train’s second car, tells MSNBC the train was “going a little faster than it seemed it should have been going” as it pulled into the station.

“All of a sudden, there was just an impact, all the lights went out,” Mesiano told the network. He said the first car jumped up onto the platform and it was hard to tell whether the injured were passengers or people outside on the platform.

“I saw a lot of people with gashed heads, there was blood on the floor, there was blood everywhere,” Mesiano said.

Nancy Solomon of New Jersey Public Radio and WNYC was on the scene. She reported that several people appeared to be injured.

“I got off my train on the way into work, and as I was walking through the station we could see that a train had come through the place where it’s supposed to stop, all the way into the station — not into the waiting room but into the outdoor part where people transfer,” she said.

“About a fourth of the roof is collapsed,” she says, and water was spraying from the damaged station.

Pictures on social media showed  serious damage to the platform. The train slammed into an exterior wall of the terminal building, according to photos of the incident. The crash also brought down large sections of the roof that covers the train yard.

Federal Rail Administration chief Sarah Feinberg and the agency’s top safety official, Bob Lauby, arrived in Hoboken to investigate the crash, the agency said.

The train was on the Pascack Valley line, which goes through Northern Bergen County. An official with the Hoboken Police Department said his agency was “trying to access all available emergency response teams” in the area.

At the time of the train crash, skies were overcast, temperatures were in the low 60s, and winds were out of the north-northeast at 13-15 mph, according to National Weather Service weather stations at Newark and Central Park.  No rain or thunderstorms were in the area.

Hoboken was the site of a serious crash in 2011, when a PATH train struck a bumping post at the end of the track. About 70 people were aboard the train for the 8:30 a.m. collision, and about 30 passengers, engineer and conductor were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. Investigators determine that the engineer failed to control the speed of the train entering the station, and that the lack of automatic braking at the site contributed to the crash.

Hoboken is a city of more than 50,000 across the Hudson River from New York City.

The city was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. About 1,700 homes were flooded, resulting in $100 million in damage. Mayor Dawn Zimmer said at the time that the low-lying city filled up with water “like a bathtub.” Businesses were devastated, with many reporting a 60% drop in revenue, and transportation was disrupted with the closure of the PATH station connecting Hoboken and Manhattan.

The city is well-known for being the birthplace and hometown of singer Frank Sinatra as well as being the site of the first recorded game of baseball.

Contributing: Susan Miller, Bart Jansen, Doug Stanglin