Metro-North engineer William Rockefeller Jr. is loaded into
an ambulance after the train derailment. REUTERS/Eric
Investigators probing the derailment of a New York
passenger train hope to interview the engineer as they try to
determine if speed, equipment failure or another factor caused
seven cars to hurtle off the tracks, killing four passengers
who were riding into Manhattan.
The victims included a family man headed into the city to
help light the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree; a nurse
going home after her overnight shift at a children's rehab
center; a woman traveling into the city for a show with her
sister, who survived; and a building superintendent going to
work and described by his wife as "a wonderful husband, a
The Metro-North train No. 8808 was rounding a bend in the
Bronx about 7:20am on Sunday (local time) when it flew off
the tracks. All seven cars went off the rails, and some of
them slid down a hill and came to rest just feet from the
More than 60 people were injured, 11 of them critically. More
than two dozen people remained hospitalized Monday, but all
were expected to survive.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it would take
seven to 10 days to complete its on-site investigation. Some
passengers have said they felt the train, which had left
Poughkeepsie at 5:54am, was traveling too quickly on the
curve, where the speed limit drops to 30 mph from 70 mph on
the straight section of tracks.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he believed speed was an issue.
"I think it is going to be speed-related," Cuomo told NBC's
"Today" show. "This was a tricky turn on the system, but it's
a turn that has been here for decades and trains negotiate
all day long. It's not about the turn. I think it's going to
turn out to be more about the speed ... and the operator's
operation of the train at that time."
The crash was the first in Metro-North's 30-year history to
cause passenger fatalities. The victims were identified as
Jim Lovell, 58; Donna L. Smith, 54; James M. Ferrari, 59; and
Kisook Ahn, 35.
Lovell, who lived in Cold Spring, north of New York City, was
a technician who was en route to Manhattan to help
preparations for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree
lighting later this week. He and his wife had four children,
and Lovell had worked on "Today" and other NBC shows.
"Sad news: Jim Lovell, esteemed Today audio technician was
among the victims of the train derailment. Our condolences to
his family," the show's executive producer, Don Nash, said on
Twitter on Sunday after the victims' identities were
Ferrari's wife, Francine, broke down in tears as she spoke to
reporters at her home in Montrose, N.Y., about her husband,
who was going to his job as a building superintendent in New
"Jimmy was a very simple man. Everything satisfied him. He
loved good food. He loved being with the family. His love
made us happy," she said. "He was wonderful. I couldn't ask
for someone better than him."
Ahn was a Korean immigrant who had worked since 2010 at a
hospital in Ossining, N.Y., and who was on her way home to
Queens after her usual 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift. "She was
just loved and adored by all of the nurses and children
here," Linda Mosiello, the director of the facility, Sunshine
Children's Home and Rehab Center, told the Wall Street
Smith, who lived in Newburgh, N.Y., worked as a paralegal and
volunteered in several organizations, including Girl Scouts.
She was very close to her sister, Linda, and the two often
traveled into Manhattan together to shop or take in shows.
They were together on Sunday; Linda survived, but Donna did
"It seemed like whenever I saw Donna, she was with her
sister," a neighbor, Lynn Davis, said, Newsday reported.
"They were like two peas in a pod. They just had each other."