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‘It was like a bomb went off’: Witnesses describe Hoboken train crash

HOBOKEN, N.J. -- When those who were not hurt stood up and looked around, they saw cement, blood and metal scattered everywhere.

So it's not surprising that they thought they had just been rocked by an explosion. Instead, they soon realized, a train had careened into the Hoboken train terminal and had crashed through and over the station platform.

"I heard the boom and seen people running. Actually thought it was a bomb."

This eyewitness, Rick Ciapta was on his work break at approximately 8:45 a.m. when the Pascack Valley line train came racing into the station. He is a NJ Transit Safety Inspector.

"All of our workers went over there to help the people," he said. "People were bleeding, the windows were busted on the train. People were buried under the concrete, you know, we tried to move the stuff. Cops and everybody did the best that they can."

Ciapta ran towards the chaos, instead of away from it. Some of the big steel columns that hold up the historic train station had come crashing down, and with it the ceiling.

A woman hit by the debris was killed, Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34.

Passengers on board the train were injured by the dozen, 114 were hurt in all. Many were tossed forward upon impact.

"I noticed that we weren’t slowing down. People are standing up because this is the last stop so everybody has to get off," said a passenger, Omar Maamoun. "People are falling on top of each other, hitting their heads and their body parts on parts of the train."

"And then the lights went out."

It wasn’t until this passenger got off the train that he saw how far it had traveled off the rails and into the station. Witness accounts varied, but several estimated it crashed 30 to 50 feet over the platform.

"I hear like nails on a chalk board, like just metal on metal," said a man coming into the station just as the crash happened.

He then heard a deafening silence, followed by screams.

"Then all these people started like coming up the stairs. Like hands and knees, coming up the stairs."