NTSB: Hoboken track signals were operating as they should

Undated file photo showing the Hoboken train station. (Big Stock photo)

Undated file photo showing the Hoboken train station. (Big Stock photo)

Federal investigators say there were no problems with signals at a New Jersey station where a commuter train crashed, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 others.

In an update on Saturday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the signals leading to the terminal appear to be working normally. It says a full study can’t be completed yet because the train is still in the station.

The train engineer

Authorities want to know why the commuter train with engineer Thomas Gallagher at the controls smashed through a steel-and-concrete bumper and hurtled into the station’s waiting area. But NTSB investigators held off questioning Gallagher on Friday because of his injuries. NTSB vice chair T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said the board has been “in touch” with Gallagher and is scheduling an interview with him.

A government official said that investigators from one of the other agencies taking part in the probe interviewed Gallagher, a NJ Transit engineer for about 18 years, three times Friday. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity, would not disclose what Gallagher said but described him as cooperative.

The black box

The NTSB retrieved the event recorder that was in the locomotive at the rear of the train but hasn’t been able to download its data and has gone to the manufacturer for help, Dinh-Zarr said. The event recorder contains speed and braking information.

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The NTSB also hasn’t been able to extract a recorder from the forward-facing video camera in the train’s mangled first car, Dinh-Zarr said. She said the wreckage cannot be safely entered yet because it is under a collapsed section of the station’s roof.Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The victim

Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, the crash’s sole fatality, was a young mother, talented lawyer and dedicated wife with a penchant for travel.

Thursday, the 34-year-old de Kroon was headed to the station during the morning commute. First she dropped off her toddler and had a good, but fleeting, conversation with a day care worker. A short time later, the train barreled down the tracks with such speed that it plowed into a barrier and went airborne into the station. De Kroon was buried by debris. She died as a crash bystander comforted her.

De Kroon, a 2011 master’s degree graduate from Florida International University’s College of Business, had previously lived in Florida, but was a Brazil native. She’d temporarily paused her legal career, leaving the software company SAP in Brazil after her husband got a job with an international liquor company.

A friend of Bittar de Kroon’s family told the Bergen Record that her husband would accompany his wife’s body back to Brazil for burial. However, it wasn’t clear Saturday when or where the service will be held.

Train crew members

Investigators are gathering records on the crew members’ training, scheduling and health, Dinh-Zarr said. The engineer, conductor and brakeman “have been very cooperative,” she said.

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