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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  September 29, 2016 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. we begin with breaking news from hoboken, new jersey. you may be aware of this crash. at least one person is dead, 75 others now we're told hurt in the crash of a commuter train into the hoboken station. you see the photos of the wreck only there. it's quite devastating. my colleague jean casarez on the scene. what's latest on those hurt and the early phase of the investigation?
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>> john, here with the latest totals we have as far as those who have succumbed to their injuries. 75 injuries. 2 critical. 12 serious injuries. we know there are two hospitals locally, one being a trauma center that the victims have been taken to. the governor christie out of town but on his way to the scene now. he is saying that everyone has been moved from the train at this point. now, expecting an official briefing right here behind me in one hour from now. so we can actually get the facts and the figures. but here's what we do know. it was 8:45 this morning. just the height of rush hour in hoboken, new jersey. just across the river from new york city. and it was a train that was coming in from spring valley. and that train according to a new york transit worker, new jersey transit worker, said it was going at a very high rate of speed. so that the front car became airborne and just went straight
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into the train terminal at that point. it was a very fast situation. fast-moving, and people were obviously standing inside that train terminal waiting for their own trains to come for the morning. at that point, emergency vehicles started arriving. what we saw, i personally saw, so many firefighting units, fire engines just all over. so many law enforcement on the scene and emergency responders. critical at that point was search and rescue. search and rescue units came in because people were trapped in those trains. the victims are saying it was really a horrific situation. but at this point, those that need medical care have been taken or in the hospitals. we know the local medical center in hoboken is using the cafeteria to treat some of the afflicted here, some minor injuries. new jersey state police at the scene. the national transportation
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board is beginning an investigation of this. at this point, that is the latest. in one hour, we should get more. >> you're among the first on the scene. the investigation will take some time. when you hear witnesses describe the train as actually airborne after going through the bumper block and into the hoboken terminal there, any sense, anybody on the scene now talking about how fast the train was going? any early accounts of why or how this happened? >> well, at this point, mainly high rate of speed i think is the main thing we're hearing. we are waiting for some answers. we're hoping in an hour that we will get those answers. this is a very old train station. it's very historic. but we're hearing that -- >> i'm sorry to interrupt you. we were going to go to the hoboken hospital where we're getting some details on those who have been brought to the hospital injured. >> -- 22 pash atients from the accident. bump, bruises, some lacerations and fractures as well.
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we've treated everybody. everybody is in stable condition. they have been connected with their family members if needed. we've had other family members calling in trying to look for their loved one. we'll connected them with the transit hot line to make sure they can be communicated with their loved ones to make sure everyone is safe. at this time, the emergency department and the hospital is in stable condition and every person has been treated and is safe. >> are you expecting anymore? >> we're not expecting anymore at this time. there might be a walking wounded that went home and might come in later and we're prepared for anyone that comes in. >> -- types of injuries -- >> bump, bruises, lacerations, fractures. >> what's the more of the serious? >> a bad fracture. >> leg, arm? >> in one of the extremities. >> do you have any children? >> no, there were no pediatric
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patients from this incident. >> can you give us the number of injuries -- >> i'm sorry, i couldn't hear what you said. >> can you give us the number of injuries and some of the nature? >> there were 22 that came in from this accident. there were five lacerations. three fractures and the rest were minor injuries of bumps, bruises, shortness of breath, chest pain. >> so none you kwould characterize as critical? >> no one from here is critical. >> like you heard from the scene, can we assume that everybody's been triaged? >> yes, we heard that mass did a great job of doing their full triage at the scene, their mass casualty triage and taking care of every single person at the scene and at this point the scene is cleared of any victims. >> do you think any patients will be admitted to the hospital? >> it's a possibility.
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>> how many from here will be admitted? >> at least one. >> have some already been released? >> yes. >> how smoothly did everything go here at the hospital? we were told earlier that the trained for days like this. >> this is something we train for, emergency incident, full incident command. fully something we do at least once a month. we had an incident command post here as well as at christ as well as at our other facility just in case we had to transport patients. one patient was seen at christ. yes, this is something that most emergency departments do train for is to be prepared for mass casualties so that there's never any question of what to do at any time. >> patient at christ, what's their status? >> they're stable. i don't know their disposition. >> can you confirm the patient at christ is a pediatric patient? >> i can't confirm that.
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i don't know the details of the patient. [ inaudible ] >> good question and that's often determination by ems of the situation and the condition of the patient. jersey city medical center is a trauma hospital. so if they did think the patient would be stable to transport from here to there, then that is appropriate for a trauma victim. if they thought patient needed mediate care and is still trauma, they would come here. >> the one at christ, what was the nature of that injury? >> i don't have the detail of the patient at christ. >> is it an adult, a male, female, how old? >> i'm not going to tell you details but yes it is an adult. and the patient is stable. >> all right, thank you, everybody. >> thank you, doctor. >> that was a live briefing there at the hoboken medical center. encouraging accounts at that
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hospital. relatively encouraging accounts. all the patients brought there, 20 patients i believe she said, stable, described mostly as lacerations, bumps, bruises, walking wounded, people that were stunned. hoboken medical center, all the patients in stable condition. the jersey city medical center, my colleague sara ganum is there now. what do we know about what's happening? >> this is the trauma center, where the more seriously injushed patients were broad immediately after that train crash. the hospital ceo telling us 51 patients were brought here within the first hour. three of them were trauma patients. no life-threatening injuries, thankfully. he said there were patients with internal injuries. there's one person who is in surgery as we speak. and another who is in intensive care. there's others who are in serious condition. and 40 who were bought here by bus. that walking wounded, what you
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just heard from hoboken hospital. that same condition of patients who were able to walk themselves on to a bus and come into the er. here they set up, as they drill for, when you have incident with many people injured, a cafeteria area with triage, with additional staffing coming in, treating those patients. three of those patients came out of the hospital here while we were out here with absolutely harrowing stories. two of them who were on the first train, the first car of that train when it crashed, saying, you know, everything seemed to be going normal. people were waiting to approach the station. they did not feel the train brake. although some of them told us they just simply couldn't remember, we're not used to paying attention what was going on as they approach the station. one passenger saying the train had slowed after it made its last stop before this one but nobody felt that train break. absolutely harrowing accounts of
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how passengers handled themselves. trying to help the more injured get out of the cars. breaking through windows. helping people on to the platform. there were injuries ranging from dislocated soldiers to broken bones, head injuries. one man here said something had -- from the outside, had come in and hit him in the head. another patient, another passenger told me that it the train roof actually collapsed right next to him. but they all felt very lucky to be able to walk out of here today. >> i know it's difficult to get information in these circumstances as they're scrambling to take care of their first priority, the patients. we were told the engineer was taken unresponsive from the train at the crash site. do we know if he is at your facility? >> so we do not know if he's here at our facility. all we know is there are three patients who are in serious condition here. trauma patients. as i mentioned, one is in surgery. another one in intensive care.
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but the hospital ceo here did tell us two important things. he said patients who were the most seriously injured were brought to this hospital. this is the regional trauma center. the second thing he said was none of those three trauma patients appeared to at this moment have life threatening injuries, john. >> the latest at the trauma center. we'll check back in with you. want to get to a crash witness, a crash participant, if you want to put it that way. on the train when it plowed into hoboken station. let me start by asking, are you okay? >> yes, i'm -- i have a little back pain but i'm fine. >> just take us through what happened. were you on the train and what do you remember? >> so i think i was in the middle of the first car. i got on the train at caulkess and hoboken is the next stop. we were like three or four
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minutes late. so i was thinking about catching my next train. and the next thing i know i'm on the floor and the train shuddering, it took three minutes to come to a stop. somebody opened the window. i see that being shown on cnn right now. i saw a woman, she was pinned under the concrete that you're showing on the scene now. someone picked her up and rescued her. >> you say you came out that window up front. i assume you're a regular commuter. did you notice anything strange, did you feel you were traveling at an unsafe speed? >> no, actually, as i said earlier, from secaucus to
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hoboken, they're actually at a lower speed. that is the speed i was feeling. suddenly, it didn't stop. there was no slowing down. >> when the moment of impact occurred, witnesses said it went through the tracks and they described the train as being airborne. is that what you felt? >> yes, i just felt plowing into something. it's a feeling i felt you were hitting something. i initially thought it was -- that was my first thought because i was in my -- looking on my cell phone. i didn't know we were in the station. so i thought we are hitting a train. i waited for the train to come to a stop. it did not stop for a long time. >> obviously we're trying to figure out how this happened.
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was there any announcement at all, if the engineer was having any mechanical problem? nothing at all? >> nothing at all. nothing. >> nothing. how many people were in that first car? >> many actually. there were more than usual. i could tell there were more people because usually i get to go to the end of the first car but now i'm stuck in the middle because people are standing. >> no advance warning, just going along, thinking you're having a normal commute and then bam? describe that scene. >> exactly. the first thing happened was i was thrown on the floor. there's a bathroom between the -- in the middle of the car and next to the -- probably i bumped into some other people. i can't recollect that. but all i could see was
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sunlight. light that went off in the train. and huge, huge vibration. a lot of vibration. i could sense we are hitting something. >> when you look at the pictures obviously you see the train is bent and broken. you see the station itself, things have been destroyed, steel twisted, wind splintered. i assume it was a rather chaotic situation. describe the passengers getting out and helping each other. how long did it take for you to see a first responder? >> so a lot of calm passengers. that helped. they were the ones that opened the windows, they kicked the window out and got everyone out. there was a guy he was helping everybody out. and then when i got out, there were employees there.
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they helped us get out and into the station inside. once we went in, a couple of minute, we got police coming in and they said you have to evacuate the station. we were moved out to the street next to it. that's when i decided to walk. i wanted to get out of there. i just walked to newport and then i got a cab from there. >> and you're okay, sir, no injuries? >> no, i have some back pain, that's about it, i'm lucky. >> well, we certainly wish you the best and we appreciate you sharing your story today. sounds like quite the harrowing experience. a passenger on that train sharing his account. before i let you go, sir, as we go back to this image, this is where -- you climbed out right here, you were in this front car of the train? >> yes, i was, i was exactly in the front car, and you guys
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showed a window that was open, that's where we jumped out from. >> we appreciate your account today. please make sure your injuries are taken care of. on vubsly a situation where a lot of people are in shock after something like this. make sure you get your back checked out. we appreciate your time. joineded by deb feyerick who's back at the scene. you listen to the account from someone on that train. obviously the investigation is starting to begin. jean casarez was saying earlier they're confident they've gone through the train and removed all the passengers. tell us what you're seeing now. >> well, what we can tell you is this -- it happened just here behind us. what we can tell you a freight engineer who happened to be walking by track five just moments before it happened. he said he heard a very loud cab boom. that's the moment of impact followed by gushing water. he described the scene saying there were people all over the tracks once that train hit the
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ju bumper and jumped on to the platform. that's where the majority of injuries occurred. people laying, bleeding, others trying to help them, trying to get them out the immediate area where this occurred. more than 100 injuries is where they initially anticipated. we can tell you that this -- that this witness who we spoke to this freight engineer, he was on that track and he said he was able to climb up and see the driver of this particular train and the driver appeared to be slumped over. here's his account. >> when i came out of dunckin' donut s after it happened, i looked to the right, i just saw the train in the building, i said, whoa. that train had to come in 30 miles an hour. maybe a little more. >> can you explain? >> there was an override system that prevented that. >> the override system come on within 30 seconds of shutting the throttle really, it should come on. i've been an engineer for 17
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years. when i'm on a train and i'm running, no matter what speed it is, if i'm running the train, and i run on new jersey transit. if i'm running the train and i maybe fall asleep or pass out, have a heart attack, say the 30 seconds starts, i mean, the 60 seconds, i'm sorry, the 60 seconds starts when i pass out. so when i pass out, i close my eyes, i passing out, 60 seconds starts counting. so i didn't touch that throat until 60 seconds, starts beeping. >> is it a button? >> it's automatic. it will stop the train. >> and what we can tell you, that's william blaine, he was that freight engineer. he said normally trains come into the station at about the 5 miles an hour and then brake. it doesn't appear witnesses heard any sort of screeching or anything that would normally suggest the train were trying to stop. he also told us the engineer,
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that system is designed so if it does not feel the touch of an engineer to try to slow it down because they know when they're coming into the station, that's when the system automatically engaging. but it needs time and it may have been the moment that train lost control. it wasn't enough time for the devices to engage in order to slow it down. but it appears that a lot of the injuries not only once that train jumped on to the platform, but also, john, keep in mind, that it caused so much interior structural damage that it caused the roof to collapse. so there was debris falling. we're told by witnesses the first responders on the scene, then had to move everybody out of that area because it was so unstable and they brought in an urban search and rescue team to shore up the entire area to make sure that, first of all, they could access the people who were stuck in that train. there were a lot of firefighters. a lot of first responders there simply trying to remove the people from the train while
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treating those who were injured on the platform. they were going to mobilize ambulances and emts from new york. ultimately they were able to get the people out and get the others to the hospital. they pulled that back. this really was treated as a mass casualty situation. because of this sort of runaway train. but also the number of casualties who were here as well, john. >> i think throughout the day, we'll be praising the first responders.r from one of the hospitals at least, everyone in stable condition. help a viewer who might live in a part of the country to understand hoboken and how important it is to new york city and the commute. put that into context. >> there's no question. hoboken is one of the busiest hubs bringing people from new jersey into new york city. there's dozens of trains. especially in the height of the morning rush hour. it's always packed. i used to commute from here many years ago. we can tell you that you've got
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people -- it's considered a suburb basically. because new york city is right across the river. but you've got a lot of people who will come and get the path here which leads them into the city. all of that shut down. now this is a crime scene. they've got to figure out what happened to the engineer. they've got to figure out the trajectory of the train. the impact, the speed. they'll be looking at cameras, things like that, just to try to gauge just exactly how this played out. this is very, very busy, this area. it's a young area, it's an area that people live because it's easy to get into the city. but it's a place where people from all the major suburbs outside of manhattan commute to. so really just tragedy, as one person said it, it worst thing
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he's ever seen. >> we're also be expecting the safety board to give us an update. we'll bring that to you live. a quick break. when we come back, more on the breaking news, a commuter train crash in hoboken.
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eliquis may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planned medical or dental procedures. eliquis treats dvt & pe blood clots. plus had less major bleeding. both made switching to eliquis right for me. ask your doctor if it's right for you. hoboken new jersey, due west of manhattan, at least one person is dead, 75 hurt, in the crash of a commuter train that plowed into hoboken station. everyone on board has been rescued, including the engineer.
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we're now hearing from victims. let's listen in. >> and thrown around, lights went out. i think the roof caved in. >> right over your shoulder. >> the mic is not going to happen. >> standing in the vestibule. it just didn't stop. and got thrown around. lights went out. i think the roof caved in on the train and collapsed the roof of the train a little bit. >> describe the other passengers. >> no one knew what was going on. honestly, you had people that were injured. there's bloody -- i think shoulder dislocation, broken wrist, stuff like that -- >> you were in the first car. >> the first car. i was standing -- there's like a row of seats, a middle part, and then another section of seats.
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i was standing in the middle. >> was it a loud bang? >> it was a loud bang. it just seemed like it didn't stop. the lights went out. and then the roof just came down on it so. because i think the roof of hoboken terminal crashed into the actual train. >> what was your injury? >> just whiplash minor. just neck hurts. >> you have been check the out? >> they checked me. i think i'm on adrenaline still. >> did the train ever slow down? >> i honestly didn't notice. i was looking at something on my phone. other passengers said yes, it seemed like it was going faster than normal. >> how did you get out of the train? >> i had to climb out the side window. >> was it already open? >> no, we kicked it out. >> somebody else kicked it out? >> yes. it was just -- people were trying to stampede out but everybody calmed down and -- >> did you help anybody get out of the train? >> yes, we tried to clear the way for the people that were bleeding more to get out first. so we like kind of made everybody, like, step out of the
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way because some people cleared the aisle so people could get off and looked at. >> we heard a doctor from the first wagon helped the second wagon with the evacuation. did you do that? did you see that? >> i didn't see anything. >> did you see fatalities? >> no. >> what did you think, why was the reason that was the accident? >> it didn't process honestly. >> did you see the roof -- >> a lot of blood -- >> did you see the roof of the train? >> yes, it was right next to me. >> it was right next to you. >> you're standing on the train? >> yeah. um, it was just, uh, i don't know it doesn't process at the moment. you don't know what's happening. you look around, make sure you're okay. yeah, other people were worse. >> you were standing or you were sitting down? >> i was standing yeah. >> you heard the so unand then what happened?
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>> standing, lights went out, didn't stop, people were falling down. the roof came down. the roof of the train. >> so tell us what happened. >> an account there from a man who says he was in the first car of the train. you see the pictures right there. that's the window an earlier passenger told us he clipped out of. one of the lucky. i want to bring in albert gill. we're waiting for a press conference at the jersey medical center. that is where the trauma center where the most seriously injured workers were taken. mr. gill is a former train engineer. he's worked on this particular train line before. when you see these pictures and you know this line, tell me what you think about how fast that train had been going to go through the bump block and others have described it going airborne as it hit the terminal. >> one, i just want to -- good afternoon.
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i would like to clarify, conductor, not engineer. but with my experience of working there for about five years and working inside the depot, inside the yards. the operating guidelines to come into the depot when you're pulling in is restricted speed not to exceed 5 miles an hour. most of these train blocks usually are not going to take anything more than 5 to 7 miles an hour. clearly, he was definitely traveling at a higher rate of speed. to cause this, that leading end of the train to go airborne. >> tell me, you say you worked on this line. if you're the conductor on a train -- arriving at hoboken station, what time did you come to work. >> usually, you would come into work -- usually report an hour and a half, two hours prior to your departure to get the train
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ready. they started at spring valley. they pull in, they get their paperwork and they'll take the train over. they'll do a brake test. the engineer and the conductor conduct a brake test. make sure everything is in working order. and then proceed to the station. at spring valley. >> you say the train should be going 3 to 5 when you get to this -- into the station here knowing there's a bumper block there. when you look at this damage and you hear the witnesses say it went up in the air through the bumper block, went up in the air, looking at the damage to the terminal, just to the train but the terminal itself, how fast do you think that was going? >> i couldn't give you a definite number but definitely at a high rate of speed. you know, to me, it doesn't make any sense how he's able to go through the inlock because he's coming through, he comes out of western inlock where he goes into the tunnel, comes out,
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comes into hoboken, he's being slowed down by signals. he'll get a different type of signal to slow him down. it's almost like reading a map or just -- and it tells you how to slow down. and when you're approaching that interlock which there's a tower there, he should be traveling no more than 5 miles an hour. not exceeding 5 miles an hour. he might have been going 5 miles an hour through the interlock, got through the interlock and the leading end, where the actual engineer's operating the train, he could have -- anything could have happened. he could have had a heart attack and hit the throttle. by the time that would have happened, it would be impossible for the train to be put into emergency where there's a system that shuts the train down. >> you raised the point. this comes up when you have these things happen. you say he's getting signals to slow down. but this is all on the conductor, right, there's no technology that shuts the train
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down -- >> it's all on the engineer. it's the engineer. the engineers will get signals. if he blows through the signal, there is a cap system inside the actual cap of that he's operating that will shut him down, but if he -- the distance is too small from the interlock and then going into the station, you don't have that much time to -- have the time to shut the train -- to put it on penalty. so he probably had enough time -- something happened in there, you know, he had a heart attack, you know, he fell into the controls and by the time he -- that system took over, it was too late, it was too late. the system that's there that's operating right there is called a push/pull system. the engineer will pull -- the engines would be on the opposite side of the terminal pushing the actual train along. and he's got the controls. and then when it leaves hoboken,
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they swap. and the engineer will jump into the actual engine, where everybody would consider to see a train. in hoboken, that cab is what comes into the terminal, not the actual engine. the engine's on the other side pushing the train. when it leaves, it will pull the train out of the station. >> albert gill, a former train conductor. appreciate your insights and expertise on this. i want to quickly say we're standing by for two news conferences. one from the national transportation board which will take a lead role in the investigation. also one at the jersey medical center. that's the regional trauma center where those who were most seriously injured in this horrific train crash were brought. want to bring in some experts. i'm joined by the former managing director of the national transportation safety board. former inspector general at the u.s. department of transportation, mary skiavo.
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what do your investigative instincts tell you? what's question number one? >> well, we've seen this before, that's the sad part. this is not a unique accident. you're going to look at a number of different factors. the first one is human factor. what was the engineer doing. how many was he performing. the mechanical systems of these trains seldom fail. in my years of investigating, i can't think of one where the system really broke down. i mean, it's almost always a human failure. and the question is, were there systems in place to prevent human failure? >> mary, when you look at this, especially the idea that this train could go through the bumper block, like a battering ram into the hoboken terminal. follow up on peter's point about the investigation. i've heard this in others. i guess it's a cost question. is there not in today's age technology that would prevent
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this, that would shut that train down when it got that close to a terminal? not allow it to travel so fast? >> well there is technology that can do that. again, when the investigators are going to have to find out is the timing. any train just because the law of physics, the only law that can't be broken is the law of physics. if whatever happened in the cab or with that engineer occurred too late to allow the braking mechanism to take effect, for example, on a very large train, on a freight train, it can take two to three miles to stop the train if the train is traveling at 50 miles an hour. here we expect since it was heading into the station it was probably already slowed down to probably 30 miles an hour as it went through the train yard or 20 miles. but the braking system, everything from positive train control, which isn't exactly a braking system, but would have given information both from the train and the track about what was going on. and then the emergency braking system. where the engineer's hand went
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often the throttle. it should have stopped it. you have to have a little bit of time for the train to stop. just because of eyer in sha. that's one of the most important things. do we need additional systems that would have taken over emergency control of the train over before or earlier than the systems do now. >> when we listen to these account, people who work in the train yard who saw this, i spoke earlier to a passenger on the train who said there was no announcement, no warning. you just heard the other engineer. we're listening for the personal stories, the details. the drama. you're listening for clues. does anything jump out to you as an investigator, he said that, this is my next question? >> no, it's really, it's really too soon. but there are going to be issues. one is the crash worthiness of the lead cars. they're supposed to be designed to withstand an accident like this. how did they perform? were the crush zones, you know,
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functioning as they were designed. another question that's going to come up with most -- as one of the witnesses said, they were standing. many of the passengers were probably standing out of their seats. did that contribute to injuries and should there be safety announcements as there are on buses, as there are on inner -- you know, air krafrt. stay in your seat until the plane comes to a complete halt. there aren't any on trains now. >> a new jersey transit train, coming from new york into new jersey. it's not a port authority issue. although i'm told the port authority is helping the investigation. the ntsb. what's the protocol? who takes the lead here? >> the lead will be taken over because they've already indicated they're going in by the ntsb. first and foremost at the crash site it would be the local law enforcement authorities. because until they've cleared the possibility that there is any crime involved. and i'm not suggesting there is. there's no clues this is a crime
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scene, violations of law or terrorism or anything like that. but the local authorities have to first consider and rule out the possibility of crime. but in this case, the ntsb is coming in, they will be the lead agency. the federal rail administration will help them. the federal rail has the inspection responsibility for trains. they don't have the manpower. they haven't been real aggressive with it. but it will be an ntsb lead without a doubt. >> on an airplane, peter, they look for the so-called black box. what technology is on an everyday commuter train that would help them if it the engineer, we assume -- we assume he'll be interviewed. but if he forgots certain details. >> there is a recorder in the engine. it will have survived. it doesn't have the detail a flight data reportcorder has.
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and there's also probably an outward-facing camera that will give some indication. and this will raise the issue of inward facing cameras. the ntsb has recommended there be inward-phasing cameras in the cabs. it's been resisted. >> resisted by the industry -- >> resisted by -- >> costs? >> by unions primarily. they don't like, you know, a third eye in the cab and looking at them. it's understandable. but -- >> ask peter and mary to stand by. we're waiting for two important developments in this investigation now and the treatment of the patients, those hurt, in this hoboken commuter plane crash. you see the trauma center. the national transportation center briefing on the right. please stay with us.
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the national transportation safety board. >> z-a-r-r, she'll be out in about two minutes, thank you. >> sorry about that, we thought that press conference was about to begin. that's the national transportation safety board to give its preliminary information about this, you see the pictures there. one dead, 75 hurt. a new jersey transit train going through the bumper block, ramming into the station in hoboken, new jersey. i have two experts with me as we wait for more information from the ntsb. and the trauma center.
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peter gols. the former inspector general at the u.s. department of transportation, mary skiauvo. they were explaining the people who will participate in this. this is the front car. the front car which turned into a battering ram which caused considerable damage to a pretty heavily constructed terminal. this is not, you know, this is not a small light building it went through. you see this damage here. i mean, if that's the first thing you saw as an investigator, what are you thinking? >> you're reminded of mary's statement. you can't violate the laws of physics. these trains are tremendously heavy. the engine is probably 60 tons alone. when you've got that kind of force moving, even if it's going in a relatively modest 20 miles an hour, it's going to produce a horrific accident and horrific accident scene and that's what we're looking at.
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>> i'm having notes handed -- we have some great producers on this story. raising the question of whether this will become a positive train control question, positive train control. the new jersey transit authority told it's not installed this safety system but they have until 2018. explain why that could or could not make a difference. >> well, it would make a difference here and it will be one of the things considered. positive train control was required and actually the first deadline has passed. the rail operators got extensions where it hasn't been installed. it's a smart train system or smart track system. the track and the train are able to communicate with each other and any problems on the track ahead, the speed of the track on the train. it's more what you might think of as like a self-driving tesla which of course they have had problems too. it gives the train and system and engineer much more information. of course the problem's going to
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be if the engineer was incapacitated, would it have stopped the train in time and quite possibly the answer is no. th they will be looking at positive control and really anything that could have helped to see what they need in addition to that. but it's very difficult to change the rail system of america because in many cases it's very old and it costs a lot of money to change the system, so changes take years, not months. >> mary, thanks very much. stand by. let's go straight to the ntsb press conference right here, just outside washington, d.c. >> before i go any further, i'd like to express on behalf of the entire ntsb our condolences and sympathies to everyone who was affected by the accident today. the ntsb team will be led by mr. jim southworth who will serve as the investigator in charge.
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he's accompanied by ntsb staff with expertise in a multidisciplinary range of activities including operations, mechanics, track signals, human performance and survival factors. also accompanying the team are members of the ntsb's transportation disaster assistance and the office of public affairs. our tda specialists are working with local officials in order to assist them. we expect to arrive in hoboken today. for the latest information on media briefings, go to our website and also follow us on our twitter handle which is @ntsb underscore newsroom.
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we will have more information after we arrive on scene and begin our investigation and we will get that to you as soon as we have it. i think i have time for two more questions. identify yourself and i will call on you. yes, sir. >> the aspect of positive train control. >> the question is will we be looking at positive train control. absolutely. ptc has been one of our priorities. we know it can prevent accidents. that is definitely one of the things we will look at carefully. >> first, can you confirm how many people have been killed or injured? >> so the question is could we confirm how many people have been kill old ed or injured. we are there to investigate the cause of this accident so we'll be working with the local authorities for that. >> are you looking at the similarities between this crash -- >> the question is will we be
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looking at the similarities between this crash and the crash that occurred in 2011. yes, we will. that was a crash that occurred at the same station on mother's day in 2011 and we always look at the past history. right now, i have a team ready to get on the plane with me. we have others on their way. so we may have another news briefing later this afternoon. if we do, we'll let you know. but regardless, we will hit the ground running and let you know what happens, thank you. >> bella dinh-zarr, giving a few details of the go team as she couples it now on the way to the crash site. these pictures out of hoboken new jersey. the nptsb will lead the investigation into this train crash. we're waiting for a briefing from the trauma center where the most seriously hurt passengers
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were taken. peter, i want to start with you. from what you heard there, it's pretty preliminary. but what is it, what is the package that's going and what's priority one? >> there's specialists in each one of the areas that doctor -- that bella mentioned. there are ph.d.s. these are people who know the subject matter. have been to investigates investigations in the past. they will set up working groups. by tomorrow morning, once the recovery is complete, they will take to the field and go through each one of those subject matters. i mean, they are pretty intense during the first week after an accident. >> new information just into us. number one, the one person confirmed dead, we are told, was on the platform, not a passenger on the plane but on the platform at the hoboken terminal when
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that train went through the bumper at the end of the tracks and literally jumped into the terminal, hurdled into the terminal. one known fatality was on the platform. at least 75 injured. we're told governor christie of new jersey and cuomo of new york will have a briefing. as you listen to the ntsb, when you take the combination of questions and the thing we talked about about ptc, she said that would be one of the questions. your early observation? >> that's good and of course it's going to be a question because it's one of the few revolutionary systems we've applied to the american rail system that has the potential to save lives and the fact it's been delayed in its full implementation and it's been on the ntsb wish list for so long. i think they certainly will put that front and center. as i mentioned, it may not have made a difference here.
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particularly, again, we've got an issue with the fact this was a pusher train. the engine was in the back. and, again, going back to the law of physics, with all the weight on the back of the train entering a high rate of speed. the front of the train literally would have become airborne. because it was so much lighter. and you've got the force heading from the back. so there's so many things the ntsb has to look at. they're most able to pull ought the resources and the experience across a variety of modes of transportation. >> the engineer, people at the scene, was taken unresponsive from the scene. now we have information he is hospitalized. let's pray he's not in such shape and he's able to talk to investigators. what are the questions? >> he'll be the most valuable witness. we do hope he is not in any way seriously injured. but they're going to, you know, do a tox test as they do on any
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operator to make sure there wasn't any alcohol or drugs, any other drugs he might have been taking for medical conditions. they're going to do a 72-hour look back on his schedule. they're going to say what did he do the last 72 hours? did he get enough sleep? what time did he show up to work this morning? sometimes on these runs, they'll do two of them in the morning. they'll do an early run at 4:00 a.m. and a second run that starts at 6:30. so they'll look at every aspect to see whether any of these could have contributed to a lack of awareness or any other medical condition. that's just the start. >> peter mentioned this earlier. you heard the vice chairwoman talk about this as well. there was an accident in 2011 at this same station. in terms of a history as an
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investigator looking at something like this, it's obvious in some ways why it would be relevant. what specific questions do you get because there is possibly here, you know, some history. >> again, you want to look at anything that's station or rail specific. when there's a train crash, if it's not a problem with the engineer and the speed control, then you look at the rails as well and you look at the rail configurations and the train. when it's not a problem with the engineer and the failure to break or an overspeed situation, then it's an out of rail alignment. but there's not a -- there's absolutely no indication that's an issue here. i think it might be a situation where this is just a very, very busy rail line. really, i mean, other than california, our only really busy rail areas up and down the east coast and of course california. so i think it might be a matter of sheer statistics. this is huge rail activity. but i haven't seen anything in this crash that suggests it's
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related to the rails or the station per se. >> thank you for your help today. we continue to track this breaking news situation. more than 3,000 passengers on the rail system. city officials expected to give an update. stay with cnn. we'll take you there live. at 2:00, we'll hear from governor christie. please stay with us as we track this breaking news story. wolf has more on this breaking news after a quick break. using 60,000 points from my chase ink card i bought all the fruit... veggies... and herbs needed to create a pop-up pick-your-own juice bar in the middle of the city, so now everyone knows... we have some of the freshest juice in town. see what the power of points can do for your business. learn more at when a moment turns romantic, why pause to take a pill?
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>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, i'm wolf blitzer in washington. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we start with breaking news out of new jersey. where a passenger train slammed into a train station at an unexpectedly high speed never slowing down, killing at least one person, injuries 75 others. we're seeing devastating pictures of the scene. where the train jumped over the
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emergency bumper. the front car went airborne. plowing right through the train station. it stopped just short of another waiting area. we're also hearing desperate accounts from inside and outside the train. stories of people bracing for impact. simply crawling out of train windows. when it finally stopped, even walking over a body as they tried to help others. >> you just heard a boom. and you could hear it got quiet. the first thing you think is terrorist. i'm sorry, this is how it goeses in this country. then i heard water running in. so i ran out and looked to the right. just saw people laying down. and debris and metal all over the place. i saw the train in the wall. the hardest part that hurts me is when i went to run in i ended up stepping over a dead one's body. that bothered me. >> the first thing i heard was the explosion of him hitting the bumper block and that train just flying


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