NJ Train Crash Investigation Underway; Engineer Tests Negative for Alcohol, Drugs

The engineer of crashed train tested negative for drugs and alcohol.

ByABC News
September 30, 2016, 10:23 AM

— -- The engineer who was behind the controls of a New Jersey Transit train that crashed into Hoboken station Thursday morning, killing one person and injuring 114 others, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, according to a law enforcement official.

The engineer, identified by NJ Transit as Thomas Gallagher, 48, was treated for minor injuries after the crash and released. He is cooperating with investigators, authorities said. A blood test on him at the hospital tested negative for alcohol and drugs, the law enforcement official told ABC News.

The test was a routine part of the investigation as officials continue to examine a number of factors that could have led to the crash, such as the condition of the train track or whether the engineer was fatigued.

Investigators have also recovered the train's event recorder, which they will attempt to examine at the scene before transporting it to their lab for analysis in Washington, D.C., to determine the speed and braking of the train before it crashed. But they have not yet recovered the cameras mounted on the train, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, an independent government agency investigating the crash.

Structural damage to the Hoboken station from the crash is hindering the transportation safety board’s efforts to get to the train on the first full day of their investigation. So far, investigators have only been able to reach the locomotive car at the end of the train, not any of the train's passenger cars. Investigators plan to put the train back on rails to remove it from the damaged building, the transportation board told ABC News today.

The Federal Railway Administration as well as the transportation safety board is investigating the crash. Investigators will be looking into all possible causes, though a senior official briefed on the crash told ABC News that they do not suspect sabotage or foul play.

The transportation board has not yet interviewed the engineer, though they have requested to do so, along with other crew members, the agency told ABC News today.

    The crash occurred around 8:45 a.m. ET in the middle of the morning rush hour, when a NJ Transit commuter train carrying 250 people and traveling at a high speed plowed into a platform inside the historic Hoboken Terminal, crashing through barriers until it hit an interior wall, sending wreckage flying and causing the station’s roof to partially collapse, officials said.

    One person died, a woman standing on the platform who was killed by debris from the crash. She has been identified as Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, a 34-year-old mother from Hoboken who moved to the United States from Brazil with her family.

    Two other people suffered life-threatening injuries, and dozens of others are being treated for minor injuries at area hospitals, officials said.

    The Hoboken Terminal was evacuated and all service there was suspended, including both NJ Transit and PATH train service. Transit officials said the station will remain closed today, impacting more than 100,000 people who use NJ Transit to commute from New Jersey to New York City each day.

    ABC News’ Mark Crudele, Whitney Lloyd, Josh Margolin and Troy McMullen contributed to this report.

    This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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