BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The commuter train derailment and collision that left dozens injured outside New York City was not the result of foul play, officials said Saturday, and a fractured section of rail is being studied to determine if it is connected to the accident.
National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said Saturday that the broken rail is of substantial interest to investigators and that a portion of the track will be sent to a lab for analysis.
Weener said it wasn’t clear if the accident caused the fracture or if the rail was broken before the crash.
He said he won’t speculate on the cause of the derailment and emphasized that the investigation was in its early stages.
Seventy-two people were sent to the hospital Friday evening after the Metro-North train, heading east from New York, derailed and was hit by a train heading west from New Haven, Conn. Most have been discharged.
Officials earlier described devastating damage and said it was fortunate no one was killed.
“All of the injured people described the really harrowing experience of having the train jolt to a stop, the dust, darkness, other kinds of factors that made it particularly frightening,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who visited several people in the hospital.
Blumenthal said a Metro-North conductor helped passengers despite her own injuries. “Her story is really one of great strength and courage, helping other passengers off the train in spite of her own very severe pain,” Blumenthal said. “She eventually had to be helped off herself.”
The crash damaged the tracks and threatened to snarl travel in the Northeast Corridor. It also caused Amtrak to suspend service between New York and Boston.
Metro-North said train service will remain suspended between South Norwalk, Conn., and New Haven until further notice.
Railroad officials said that rebuilding the two tracks and restoring train service “will take well into next week.”