New York

‘Everybody Started Falling on the Ground, Teeth Fell Out': Woman in First Car of Derailed LIRR Train Describes Harrowing Ordeal

The train derailed at the busy Atlantic Terminal at rush hour; 103 people were hurt

What to Know

  • A Long Island Rail Road train derailed at track 6 at Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal at the height of Wednesday's morning rush
  • 103 people were hurt, though fire officials said their injuries were considered minor; some were taken to hospitals for evaluation
  • The cause of the derailment is under investigation; photos showed the train tipped at an angle and the platform filling with smoke

A woman sitting in the first car of the LIRR train that derailed in Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal Wednesday described a harrowing scene as passengers scrambled to escape the smoke and shattered glass. 

"There was this big impact and my head just went right forward on that hard tough seat," said Natasha Bridget, who was coming into Atlantic Terminal from Locust Manor. "Everybody started falling on the ground. People were crying. One person bruised their mouth; their teeth fell out." 

"It just threw us out of our seats," said a woman named Tracy. "People were thrown into the aisles." 

About 430 people were packed onto the six-car rush-hour train that originated in Far Rockaway, officials said. Many were standing as they prepared to get off the train. More than 100 were hurt when it derailed, though officials say the worst injury is thought to be a possible broken leg. 

Bridget, who spoke to NBC 4 New York outside the hospital where she was treated, said she was texting as the train pulled into the station. 

"I don't know what happened with the motorman or what took place but we were in the terminal, the platform was right there, so I don't know why the train didn't stop," she said. 

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast said from the scene earlier Wednesday that the train struck the bumping block at track 6, then went up and over the block. The impact knocked the wheels of the first car and one other axle off the rails, he said. 

"The first car was raised way up on the car, the front of the car was smashed, shattered glass on the ground," passenger Aaron Neufeld said.

Bridget said smoke rapidly started filling the car she was in after the impact and she and other dazed passengers fought to get out. One woman next to her suffered a panic attack, she said. 

Neufeld said he saw one woman on the floor, wailing as her face bled. 

"I see folks bleeding, people laid out, legs injured," said Tracy. "People complaining they couldn't move their necks. It was a mess." 

"You're shocked," said Neufeld. "Nobody knows what's going on." 

Several passengers complained of neck and back injuries after the accident. Some people were carried away on stretchers; others were sitting outside the train holding ice packs to their heads. 

Bridge said she has a very bad headache and feels nauseous after smacking her head into the seat in front of her. 

"Very traumatized at this point. My neck feels stiff," she said. "But, you know, hopefully everything is fine, pray to god that everything is fine. I was just so happy we were on the terminal and not on the ground; it would have been worse." 

The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration sent federal investigators to the scene. A cause of the accident remains under investigation. The condition of the train engineer wasn't immediately clear, and it wasn't known when authorities expected to be able to question the person.

The conductor and brakeman will also be interviewed.

Contact Us