A New Jersey Transit train hit a tractor trailer near the Plauderville station Friday afternoon, suspending service for hours on the Bergen County line.
NJ Transit officials said the train was going from Hoboken to Ridgewood when it hit a truck stuck at the Hobart Place crossing in Garfield at about noon. The locomotive of the six-car train derailed and the tractor trailer overturned.
Authorities said the rig of the truck had gotten wedged in the tracks as it tried to go up an approximately 30-degree incline on the road.
Witness Tim Ross said "the railroad crossing gates came down, and the driver ran away and the train hit it," estimating the truck was stuck "at least five to 10 minutes" before the crash.
The driver "did not call 911, and after an undetermined period of time that is currently under investigation, the gates had come down, and the ensuing collision occurred," said John Durso Jr., a spokesman for NJ Transit.
The train was between stations and would have been going 50 mph, but witnesses said the driver tried to warn the arriving train by waving his arms.
"I think the train definitely slowed down," said a woman who asked not to be identified.
Durso said the gates were down and functioning properly before the train arrived at the crossing.
There were 38 customers and four crew members on board the train at the time of the crash, officials said. One passenger and one crew member sustained non-life threatening injuries.
There are clear signs on both sides of the tracks warning trucks with low carriages to reroute, but the 51-year-old driver from South Carolina, who was headed to a plastics company just a block away from the crossing, may not have been familiar with the area, neighbors speculated.
The accident damaged about 80 feet of track that needed to be repaired and halted service on the Bergen line for hours. The tracks were reopened by about 9 p.m. and service on the Bergen County line has been restored.