Bronx train crash: driver says brakes failed before it derailed

Authorities have black box from train in which at least four people died and 63 were injured

LAST UPDATED AT 11:57 ON Mon 2 Dec 2013

THE driver of a New York train that derailed as it hurtled around a corner in the Bronx, has told authorities that the locomotive's brakes "didn't work".

At least four people were killed and 63 injured – 11 of them critically – in yesterday's early morning crash. Rescue workers are still trying to right three of the seven carriages which came off the rails and believe they may find more victims.

"It was just a bloodbath," a shaken rescue worker told the New York Post at the scene of the crash, described as "a bucolic stretch of the Hudson River".

The driver of the train, 46-year-old William Rockefeller, is a "20-year veteran" of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the Post says. He survived the crash and is "distraught" over the accident and "the people who were injured," a source told the paper.

Several eyewitnesses have reported that the train was travelling faster than the speed limit applied to the stretch of track where it derailed. The New York Times says between 100 and 150 people were on the 5.54am train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Station at the time of the accident. The number of passengers was relatively low compared to a weekday commuter train.

There were four crew members on board the locomotive and its 'black box' data recorder has been recovered by crash investigators.

Many of the passengers were "dozing" when the train passed under the Henry Hudson Bridge on the bank of the Hudson river yesterday morning. As it left the tracks in a shower of sparks, three people - all of whom were killed - were throw from their carriage "as the windows blew out", the Times says.

All of the victims are New Yorkers. The four victims who have been named were 35-year-old Ahn Kisook, Donna Smith, 54, James Ferrari, 59, and 58-year-old James Lovell.

Survivors described the chaos as the train left the tracks. "I was just holding on... and people were flying around," Eddie Russell, 48, told the Post. "I was afraid I was going to fall out the window."

The BBC says the investigation into the causes of the crash is already underway. A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said: "Our mission is not just to understand what happened, but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it happening again." · 

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