19 injured after packed subway train derails in Queens

Posted at 10:53 AM, May 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-02 18:37:12-04
mario diaz train derail queens

A woman is taken away on a stretcher from the scene of a subway train derailment in Woodside, Queens, on Friday, May 2, 2014. (Photo: PIX11’s Mario Diaz)

WOODSIDE, Queens (PIX11) —  At least 19 people were injured — four seriously — after a packed subway train derailed Friday morning in Queens.

Nearly 1,000 passengers were on board a Brooklyn-bound express when the bulk of the train derailed about 10:30 a.m., according to MTA.

The derailment involved an eight-car F train on the express track, the agency said.

The middle six cars derailed near the Broadway-65th Street station, damaging the track and car equipment, said Tom Prendergrast, chairman and CEO of the MTA.

The more serious injuries included smoke inhalation, Prendergrast said.

No fire was sparked by the derailment, but an EMS official said a cloud of dust was kicked up, which may be the smoke many passengers reported seeing and smelling.

It took emergency crews about an hour to evacuate the derailed train, and also clear out passengers of another train that was stalled when the MTA cut electricity to the tracks.

Prendergrast said he anticipates north- and southbound local service will be restored by the evening rush. Crews will start repairing the track after the rush hour and into the weekend, he said.

Passengers were evacuated through chute-like emergency exits, accessed through the sidewalk above, between 60th and 65th streets, aerial footage showed.

They were visibly shaken, recalling a strong jerk that felt as though the train may have collided with something.

“Coming off your seat, it was pretty bad,” said Irvelle Cadet, 24, who was coming from Jamaica Center. “We ended up sideways. There was sparks and fire.”

Louis Barahona said he felt the train bouncing up and down then felt the impact. Traveling in a car that tipped over, Barahona said he saw straphangers fall to the floor and could smell smoke.

“It was very panicking, something nobody wants to experience, ever, riding a train” he said.

Another passenger said “everybody behaved wonderfully,” staying calm and concerned with the well-being of their fellow commuters.

The last time an MTA train derailed was last May along the 1 line near 125th Street, Prendergrast said.

The cause of Friday’s derailment is under investigation. Both the train’s operator and conductor will undergo tests to determine they were not impaired, Prendergrast said.

Because of the derailment, the following service changes are in effect as of 5:00 p.m., according to MTA:

  • E and F train service has been restored on local tracks along Queens Boulevard.
  • Express service on the E and F lines is suspended.
  • M and R trains will not run along Queens Boulevard. R trains will run between Whitehall St and 57 St-7 Av in Manhattan. M trains will run between Metropolitan Av in Queens and Chambers St in Manhattan.
  • All service will be suspended along the Queens Boulevard line from 10 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday for the removal of the derailed train.
  • There will be limited shuttle bus service. Customers are advised to use the 7 train.

Riders can use the 7 and J trains to and from Manhattan as alternates, or take an above-ground train.

LIRR is honoring NYC Transit tickets in both directions, and making all local westbound stops between Jamaica and Penn Station, the agency said.

For the latest schedule changes, check the MTA’s website, here.

PIX11’s Christopher Brito and Mario Diaz contributed to this report.