HOBOKEN - As federal authorities continue to investigate a fatal train crash at the Hoboken Terminal, a traveler who was injured in the crash says that he is lucky to be alive.
James Bessette was walking through the terminal last Friday when the Pascack Valley Line train flew right by him and crashed into the terminal. Bessette was injured by debris and rushed to the hospital.
“I heard a loud explosion. I thought it was bomb, and then all of a sudden a train passes right in front of me,” Bessette says. “I panicked and then the ceiling came down."
Bessette says that he believes that if the crash happened 30 seconds earlier, he would have been killed. He says that he remembers everything about the crash, even though he wishes at times that he didn’t.
“The other thing I distinctly remember was the train wasn't going vertically, it was going up in the air,” he says. “That was jarring, seeing the train flying.”
Bessette suffered a concussion and injures to his legs. He credited first responders for acting quickly in the emergency. He says he was one of the first people in an ambulance and was taken to Hoboken Hospital.
Bessette says he believes the train was traveling faster than it should have been. The speed limit into the terminal is 10 mph. Some witnesses believe the train was traveling two or three times that speed.
An investigator for the NTSB would not comment on that claim, and says that the data pulled from the train’s event recorder will shed light on that issue.
Bessette says something needs to be done to make sure a crash like this doesn’t happen again.
"I’m just hoping lawmakers take a serious look at it and work to resolve it,” he says. “Make sure the funding is in place for safety. They shouldn’t compromised funding if it will compromise public safety."
The crash killed a 34-year-old Hoboken mother who recently moved from Brazil. Over 100 other people were injured.