Passenger plans lawsuit after losing finger in Hoboken train crash

Sheldon Kest (center) says he plans on filing a lawsuit against NJ Transit. Kest was riding in the front car of Pascack Valley Line train 1614 when it crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29. Kest lost part of a finger and suffered other injuries in the crash.

Sheldon Kest (center) says he plans on filing a lawsuit against NJ Transit. Kest was riding in the front car of Pascack Valley Line train 1614 when it crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29. Kest lost part of a finger and suffered other injuries in the crash. (10/11/16)

NEWARK - A Bergen County man who lost part of a finger and suffered other injuries in last month's Hoboken train crash has filed notice of his intent to sue.

Lawyers for Sheldon Kest, of Tenafly, announced the lawsuit during a news conference Tuesday in Newark.

Kest, 66, was a passenger in the front car of the New Jersey Transit train that crashed into the terminal on Sept. 29. He also suffered a broken nose and lacerations to his head and face.

Kest says he hopes the legal action forces some changes that will help save lives.

"I just assumed that NJ Transit was keeping safety in the forefront,” he says. “My ride that day was like any other until lights went dark and roof started to collapse."

Investigators say the engineer was going 21 mph, which is more than double the 10 mph speed limit at the station, just before the crash. The crash killed a 34-year-old woman standing on the platform and injured more than 100 others.

Kest says he is thankful to be alive and credits two strangers for pulling him out of the wreckage and to safety.

"I need to know - how did this happen? Why? And who should be accountable, so something like this never happens again,” says Kest.

Kest and his attorneys say that NJ Transit knew safety systems could have been put into place to prevent the crash, but did not implement those systems. A system like positive train control could have forced the train to slow down before it crashed.

Federal authorities mandated that all trains implement positive train control, but the deadline was pushed back to 2018.

"It shouldn't be an accident like this that causes a transit agency to accelerate doing what should have been done to ensure the highest level of safety features are in place,” Kest says.

Kest says he would like to meet the two strangers that pulled him from the wreckage after the crash.

A New Jersey Transit spokesperson declined to comment on the suit.

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