Metro-North train derailment survivor: "I think this is going to be it. We're done"

Four people were killed and more than 60 others hurt when a commuter train in New York City skidded off the the tracks while rounding a sharp curve
Four people were killed and more than 60 othe... 03:06

Twenty four hours after a Metro-North train accident in New York City there were still many unanswered questions. The derailment was the first fatal crash in the commuter railroad’s 30 year history. Four passengers died and more than 60 others were injured. 

The train was rounding a curve, just before the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, when it suddenly jumped its track around 7:20 a.m. on Sunday.  

"It went flying off,” said passenger Ryan Kelly. “I got thrown across, back and forth, and it came to a halt and there was just people screaming and lot of soot and dust everywhere."

All seven cars and the rear locomotive derailed with one car stopping just short of the Harlem River.

Like many passengers, Joel Zaritsky had just dozed off as the train entered the sharp turn.

"You could hear an unbelievable screeching noise as it occurred,” he said. “It went to the side, you see the ground, and I said to myself, 'well, I think this is going to be it. We're done.'"

Within minutes, witnesses say first responders were on the scene pulling people to safety. The injured were rushed to local hospitals.

Emergency crews used airbags to search for victims under the wreckage. Officials say three of the four people who died were thrown from the train. 

Among the victims were 54-year-old Donna Smith and 58-year-old Jim Lovell. 

Lovell, a father of four, was heading to work on the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

It's still not clear how fast the train was going as it made that fatal turn. The train's engineer William Rockefeller, was among those treated.

"Nobody really knows what happened so far in terms of why the accident occurred but, what is clear is that there are four people who lost their lives,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It's very tragic."

As bad as this derailment was, officials say it could have been a lot worse if it had happened on a week day. The Sunday morning train was only about half full.

The cars were still scattered along the shut-down rail line and thousands of commuters were scrambling to find a different route to the city on Monday.