A Harlem train derailment at around 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, June 27, injured at least 30 people and resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of passengers. Shortly after the subway train crashed, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said the accident was likely caused by human error. At least two MTA employees have been suspended in the wake of the New York train derailment, as an investigation into the incident continues. Now, the safety of New York’s subway system is once again being called into question, following this and a recent high-profile train derailment at Penn Station.
34 People Injured in New York Subway Accident
At least 34 people suffered injuries in the subway derailment; 17 of those were taken to local hospitals for injury treatment, though all injuries were reportedly minor. Passengers who were on the derailed train said they thought they were going to die in the crash, which happened to the southbound A train as it approached the 125th Street station. The A train contained eight cars; the fourth and fifth cars derailed in the accident.
Motorman Christopher Miller, who was operating the A train at the time of the derailment, said the train was moving between 20 and 25 miles per hour as it approached the station.
Subway Passengers Describe Chaos After the A Train Crashes
“I never thought it was not a safe system,” said Michelle Ayoub to The New York Times. “I guess now I’m thinking that. I really don’t want to get back on a train.”
Passengers were forced to evacuate in the dark, through heavy smoke. With more than 800 people in the subway tunnel, it was more than an hour before everyone was safely evacuated.
“People were screaming; people were throwing up because the smoke was so thick,” said Kelly Kopp. “I thought, ‘We’re going to burn alive in here’.”
Harlem Train Derailment Reportedly Caused by Replacement Rail
According to the MTA, the Harlem train derailment was caused by a piece of replacement rail that had been improperly secured while repairs to the track were being carried out. Two supervisors who oversaw repair work at the site of the derailment have been suspended without pay while an investigation is conducted.
Damage from the derailment affected around 200 feet of track. Meanwhile, signal equipment was broken and concrete was torn from the surrounding walls.
MTA Train Service Suspended in the Area
Other trains in the area were stalled as a result of the Harlem train derailment. Passengers on some of those trains reported they were left for more than an hour on the trains while waiting for help. Meanwhile, passengers on other trains left their cars before first responders could assist them.
It took until Tuesday night for the A train’s service to be restored to the area between Columbus Circle and 168th Street in Manhattan, but service from the C train was suspended until Wednesday morning.
New York subway riders have endured a few high-profile accidents recently, including a Brooklyn train crash on January 4, 2017, that injured 103 people.