Investigation into deadly train crash in Hoboken zeroes in on NJ Transit engineer

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HOBOKEN, N.J. – Friday marks the first full day federal investigators can dive deep into what went wrong.

Operations, mechanical issues, human performance, signals, survival factors and track issues are among the factors NTSB vice chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr said will be reviewed.

Meanwhile, commuters on Friday are left with searing memories from 24 hours ago.

"Heard the boom saw people running and people were buried under concrete," Rick Ciappa, a witness said.

"After the deafening silence, I heard shrieks erupt from the platform," Matt Thompson, another witness said.

A NJ Transit train with 250 people on board was seen barreling into the station around 8:45 a.m. Thursday. The careening commuter train slammed through a barrier at Terminal causing twisted metal and flying concrete that killed a Hoboken woman.

"The canopy itself, the roof, came down," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "That's what killed the woman on the platform. The abrupt stop of the train is what injured the people within."

More than 100 other hurt were shuffled to safety by strangers helping each other.

"It's just a beautiful story of commuters and people just helping each other through this tragedy," Mayor of Hoboken Dawn Zimmer said.

The man behind the train controls, Thomas Gallagher, was not seriously hurt. He worked with NJ Transit for 29 years.

The NTSB will interview him Friday and look at the train's data recorders.

"Once we pulled that we'll have more information about the speed and braking and other issues," Bella Dinh-Zarr said.

Dinh-Zarr said water is leaking onto the site of the crash, sparking concern about the terminal's structural integrity. Because of the terminal's age, asbestos is also a concern as the carcinogenic material, used as insulation, may have been released into the air when the walls and ceiling shattered in the crash.

She urged anyone with "relevant information" to email

The investigation will include a look at similarities between Thursday's deadly incident and another crash at the same station on Mother's Day in 2011, NTSB officials said. In the 2011 incident, 34 people were injured when a PATH train slammed into a bumper at the end of a track.

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