LIRR Derailment ‘Likely Due To Human Error’, Investigators Say

A Long Island Rail Road train derailment at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal resulted in 103 injuries at 8:20 on Wednesday morning. One of the passengers said she didn’t know if it was a derailment or a terrorist attack – there was just smoke, people crying, screaming and bleeding everywhere. Eleven people left the scene on stretchers, but the worst injury was a broken leg. There were no fatalities. The accident victims were treated at Brooklyn Hospital, Kings County Hospital and Methodist Hospital.

Human error was likely to blame, says transportation officials

Officials stated that human error was likely to blame for the crash, though a more thorough investigation would be conducted to find out why the runaway train overshot the platform, hit the metal bumper, and careened off the track at 10-15 mph. A source told the NY Daily News the speed limit at the station is 5 mph.

“There’s a signal system that controls (the train) coming in at limited speeds,” said Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Tom Prendergast. “But when you come to the end it’s the locomotive engineer’s responsibility. And the train’s brakes have to work. All these things have to be looked at.” Passengers say they heard screeching brakes, but it appeared to be too little too late to stop the train from slamming into the terminal.

NTSB officials will be working at the site for the next week, and have asked any eyewitnesses to email video footage of the crash to They are currently reviewing onboard event recorders and have interviewed the driver of the train. He has undergone drug testing, but the results are not yet known.

Two NYC area train accidents in five months’ time

A similar incident occurred on September 29, when a NJ Transit train traveling at 21 mph crashed through the same type of barrier in Hoboken, killing one and injuring more than 100. “Luckily, all things considered, this was a relatively minor accident,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo, adding: “There was extensive damage in Hoboken. That train was coming in much faster. This is minor compared to what happened in Hoboken. The question is, ‘Why didn’t the operator stop the train?’”

The Hoboken train engineer was found to be suffering from sleep apnea, which was deemed a causative factor in the September accident. The NJ Transit engineer of 18 years said he had no memory of the crash, but remembers waking up on the floor. Onboard recording devices said the train’s throttle went from idle to half-power 38 seconds before impact, with speeds increasing before the engineer hit the emergency brake.

Who is at fault in a train accident?

Victims who have sustained injuries in a train accident may have grounds to sue:

  • The train operator
  • The employer of the train operator
  • Supervisors in charge of providing training
  • Train maintenance personnel
  • Train parts manufacturers or suppliers

Getting to the root cause of a train crash demands a complicated investigation involving much evidence gathering, interviews, and examination of internal records. Contact NYC personal injury attorneys at The Sanders Firm for a free assessment of your case. You pay nothing unless we win money on your behalf!

Additional Brooklyn LIRR train crash resources

  1. NY Times – I.R.R. Crash in Brooklyn Injures More Than 100
  2. NY Daily News – LIRR train slams into Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, injuring 103 passengers
  4. USA Today – Sleep apnea suspected in fatal New Jersey train crash