Federal investigators said Tuesday they have recovered the event recorder from wreckage of a NJ Transit train that crashed at the Hoboken station last week, killing one person and injuring more than 100 people.
Investigator James Southworth said at a news conference near the station that the device, which should have recorded the speed, throttle position and other details, was recovered earlier in the day and shipped for analysis to the Washington, D.C., offices of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Southworth, lead investigator for the NTSB, declined to comment on an Associated Press report that the train was going 20 to 30 mph, far in excess of the 10-mph limit in the station.
“All this evidence including the data recorder, is out,” said Southworth, adding that, “We are not prepared to say the speed of the train due to the analysis we have to wait for.”
The AP report, quoting an unidentified U.S. official, said the speed estimate was based on the damage caused by the accident.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said last week that the train was likely going 30 or 35 mph. Cuomo said that estimate was based on eyewitness accounts.
The train’s engineer, Thomas Gallagher, 48, of Morris Plains, New Jersey, told investigators last week that the train was going 10 mph in the station, but said he did not remember the crash.
Southworth said a team of investigators entered the front of the train about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday after being assured that the collapsed station area was structurally secure.
“We found the [event recorder] box in the front cab also along with the personnel effects, including the engineer’s cellphone, which was in his backpack,” Southworth said
He said the recorder and the cellphone arrived in Washington about 3 p.m. and were being analyzed.
A second data recorder, in the locomotive at the rear of the train, was recovered last week, but was not functioning the day of the crash, the NTSB has said.
A commuter train is required to have a working event recorder in the front, Southworth said. He said he did not know the condition of the box recovered Tuesday.
The accident occurred about 8:45 a.m. Thursday when the train, carrying 250 people, failed to slow as it approached the Hoboken Terminal. It crashed through a barrier and barreled through a station concourse.
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, the mother of a 1-year-old girl, was killed in the collapse.
Officials said 114 others were injured, including engineer Gallagher, a 29-year employee who has since been released from the hospital.
Southworth said investigators are expected to continue their work at the crash site for several days. It is not known when the station will be open to commuters, he said.
With Maria Alvarez