New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey State Governor Christ Christie both cancelled their plans to fly to Israel Thursday night after a commuter train derailed and crashed through a barrier, straight into the reception area at New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken Terminal. The train originated in Spring Valley, New York.
Both governors, who spoke with media at a joint news conference held at the crash site, were slated to attend the funeral on Friday of 93-year-old former President Shimon Peres at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.
Governor Christie confirmed that the train’s engineer, who was operating the train at the time of the crash, “was also critically injured. He is at a local hospital and cooperating with law enforcement officials in the investigation.”
Neither Christie nor Cuomo was willing to speculate on whether the crash had any connection to terrorism or other intentional act to kill.
“These have been difficult times over these past weeks and months, between terrorist attacks and natural disasters, Cuomo told reporters. The comment was a reference to a recent series of bombings in New York and New Jersey earlier this month by accused terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was charged with attempted murder and other crimes after a manhunt ended in a shootout with police.
“The train was carrying a large number of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said in a statement Thursday several hours after the accident. “The state is working closely with New Jersey Transit and New Jersey authorities, as well as all local and federal partners to provide assistance and keep travelers safe.
“New York State Police, MTA, Metro North, Port Authority Police Department, Department of Health and emergency officials from the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services are traveling to New Jersey to assist in ongoing response efforts in the aftermath of the crash. The NYS OEM Emergency Operations Center has been activated at the enhanced monitoring level and will continue to provide updates throughout the day.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who were hurt, and I extend my deepest condolences to the families of those whose loved ones were lost in the fatal accident. The state continues to work around the clock to help those in need, and we will continue to provide the public with more information as it comes in.”
The death toll in the crash was originally reported as three, but officials now confirm one person killed in the accident, although more than 100 other people were hurt, including many with critical injuries.Hana Levi Julian