Meanwhile, thousands of people braced for a complicated morning commute today, with shuttle buses ferrying passengers to another line.
Investigators were due to examine factors ranging from the track condition to the crew’s performance. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash. The speed limit on the curve is 30 mph, compared with 70 mph in the area approaching it, Weener said.
Authorities did not yet know how fast the train was traveling but had found a data recorder, he said.
One passenger, Frank Tatulli, told WABC-TV that the train appeared to be going “a lot faster” than usual as it approached the sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station.
The MTA yesterday identified the victims as Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens. Three of the dead were found outside the train, and one was found inside, authorities said. Autopsies were scheduled for today, said the New York City medical examiner’s office.
Lovell, an audio technician, was traveling from his Cold Spring home to midtown Manhattan to work on the famed Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, said longtime friend Janet Barton.
Eleven of the injured were believed to be critically wounded and another six seriously hurt, according to the Fire Department. After visiting an area hospital yesterday evening, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that the 11 who originally were critical no longer appeared to have life-threatening injuries.
To Cuomo, the scene “looked like a toy train set that was mangled by some super-powerful force,” the governor said in a phone interview with CNN.
As deadly as the derailment was, the toll could have been far greater had it happened on a weekday, or had the lead car plunged into the water instead of nearing it. The train was about half-full at the time of the crash, rail officials said.