Hoboken train crash: NTSB analyzing event and video recorders, officials say

The National Transportation Safety Board is analyzing the event recorder its investigators recovered from the deadly NJ Transit crash in Hoboken, New Jersey, on Tuesday, and should have new information in the coming days.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a Twitter message that its investigators were analyzing event and video recorders recovered from the train.

“Expect content characterization in a few days,” the Twitter message said.

An agency spokesman said the information that will be made public will deal with what was found in the recorders, but will not give a cause for the crash.

On Tuesday, NTSB Investigator-in-Charge Jim Southworth said the event and video data recorders were removed from the lead car, which sustained significant damage in the crash, at around 10:30 a.m., five days after the crash.

The event recorder is expected to provide speed, throttle and breaking information as well as “about 100 other parameters” regarding the train’s movements, Southworth said.

Investigators were also able to access the engineer’s cellphone in his backpack, which was left in the cab after the crash. The engineer, Thomas Gallagher, had told investigators during his interview that his phone was turned off and in his backpack when the crash occurred, according to NTSB Vice Chairwoman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr.

Southworth said the cellphone as well as the event and video recorders were sent to be analyzed at the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Southworth said he did not know whether the event recorder was functioning. A second event recorder, located in the rear train car, was recovered early on in the investigation but was not functioning at the time of the crash, NTSB officials said.

Gallagher, a 29-year NJ Transit veteran, had told investigators the train was moving at the speed limit of 10 miles per hour when it was nearing the station, but said he does not remember the crash itself.

Witnesses, including passengers on the train, have said the train appeared to enter the station too fast and did not slow down as it approached the platform.

Southworth declined to comment on how fast the train may have been going, saying the data recorder should help answer that question. 

It was around 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 29, when the train crashed through a barrier at Hoboken Terminal and into a station concourse. The train was carrying 250 people at the time, officials said. 

The force of the impact toppled support beams, mangled station structures and sent a canopy roof crashing down. Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken, was killed in the crash. Officials said she was hit by debris while standing on the platform.

Officials said 114 others were injured, including Gallagher, who has since been released from the hospital.