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Commuter Describes Scene Of Train Crash In Hoboken, N.J.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Let's get an eyewitness account of a train crash this morning in Hoboken, N.J. It was a commuter train. It was heading in the direction of New York City. It reached the Hoboken terminal, and photos posted on social media show a crash and even a roof collapse inside that terminal. Ben Fairclough is in Hoboken, N.J., this morning. He runs an Internet business.

And Mr. Fairclough, where were you when this happened and what did you see?

BEN FAIRCLOUGH: Yeah. Hi, Steve. I was arriving on a different train at what seemed to be just a few minutes or seconds after the train crash happened. So I got off my train and was walking toward the PATH station, where I would typically walk. And it was completely blocked by a train that completely ran the platform. It actually appeared to completely crash into the terminal itself, causing water to be coming down from the ceiling and the roof to, at least partially, collapse.

INSKEEP: I want to make sure that people understand this. It's a terminal, which means the tracks end there near the waterfront.

FAIRCLOUGH: Correct.

INSKEEP: And you're saying the train from your viewpoint seemed to have gone over the end of the track and smashed into the building of the station itself.

FAIRCLOUGH: That's correct. I spoke to a few witness - a few people who were on the train who were injured. And they said the train was shaking before it came to an eventual stop. And it was moving at a high rate of speed. There were people climbing out of windows. There was water coming down from the top of the ceiling. And there did appear to be folks who were, who were unconscious or, unfortunately, it could have been a fatality. I can't confirm that. But...

INSKEEP: Yeah, let's not...

FAIRCLOUGH: It was not - it was not a pretty scene. It was, unfortunately, pretty chaotic.

INSKEEP: Would you say it was a large number of people who appeared injured to you?

FAIRCLOUGH: Yeah, at least in the tens. You know, at least, you know, 10, 20, 30, something like that.

INSKEEP: What happened after that? You're now a couple of blocks away.

FAIRCLOUGH: Yeah, so the authorities arrived en masse, as you might imagine, and completely cleared the scene and told people to get - you know, get away from the terminal. There were some concerns that the roof would collapse, at least it could collapse even further. So there was some issues with, you know, safety. They've cleared people at least one block away from the station now. And I'm at the corner of River and 2nd street trying to sort of gather myself.

INSKEEP: Right there in Hoboken, N.J. We should mention this is a commuter train. It takes people in the direction of New York. Then you change trains, as you were intending to do, to get into New York City. Was this a very crowded time of day?

FAIRCLOUGH: Yeah, we're at the thick of rush hour. It was around 8:30, 8:45 or so when I arrived. And it's - you know, that's typical commuter time, as you might imagine. So there's 17 tracks total, I believe, 16 or 17, and they all go through Hoboken. It's one of the major sort of hubs for commuters who are looking to go into New York City.

INSKEEP: Are you OK?

FAIRCLOUGH: Yes, I'm fine, thank you, just a little shaken up.

INSKEEP: OK. Well, Ben Fairclough in Hoboken, N.J., thanks for sharing what you know this morning, really appreciate it.

FAIRCLOUGH: No problem. Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: And again, we have no specific word on injuries. But an eyewitness account there of a train that seems to have overshot the tracks at the terminal in Hoboken, N.J., this morning. We'll bring you more as we learn it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.