Man Hit by Runaway New York Train Remembers a Bang, Then Blackness

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by UPJunkie, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. UPJunkie

    UPJunkie Member

    Aug 9, 2003
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    One of the people hurt by that runaway train in Queens is now telling his terrifying story to Eyewitness News.

    Also today the NTSB is trying to figure out exactly what went wrong. Jeff Rossen is in Jamaica Queens with the story.

    An unattended Long Island Rail Road freight train broke loose yesterday -- rolling for a mile through an industrial neighborhood, colliding with several vehicles in its path.

    Investigators are looking into whether the brake malfunctioned or if it was never engaged. Crew members say they are certain the brake was set.

    We had a chance to visit the hospital room today of one of the victims. He told us what it was like, first hand, to be hit by a runaway train.

    Jeff Rossen: "Do you feel lucky you weren't killed?" Meir Mahlab, Hit By Train: "No. With the pain I'm in, I wish I were dead."

    Meir Mahlab, who isn't in the best of spirits -- and who can blame him -- was driving to a Brooklyn bakery on Wednesday, when the runaway locomotive hit him. He says it happened so fast, the moment of impact is a blur.

    Meir Mahlab: "I have not seen the train, I have not witnessed the train. Only I know I was bang, and black."

    He can't remember the immediate pain, but says he can feel it now. His back hurts most.

    Meir Mahlab: "I wouldn't wish it to my enemy."

    Meir is one of four people who were hurt, a nun was injured and she'll be OK. But two others are still in critical condition.

    The LIRR locomotive rolled down the tracks at 15 miles-per-hour, unmanned, for a mile and a half. On its way it blew through street crossings, and destroyed five vehicles.

    David Lanos, Eyewitness: "When you drive over you're always looking, you're always wonder what happens if a train's coming here? Because there's no crossing that comes down to let you know. And if some train goes wild again like that, it could be a big accident."

    The locomotive broke loose from the Fresh Ponds rail yard, where it was left unmanned with the engine running. But somehow it was also unhitched. Now NTSB investigators are on scene, and they're looking into whether the brakes malfunctioned, or if they were engaged at all.

    Ed Dobransetski, NTSB: "A locomotive being left unattended is not unusual. It's the circumstances of how it was left unattended; were the brakes set, how were they set, were they in compliance with the carrier's operating rules, just what was done."

    From his hospital bed, Meir Mahlab wants to know why it happened. But more important, he says, is that the more critical victims pull through.

    Meir Mahlab: "Wish them health and quick recovery. I know what they're feeling, I know their pains, I know everything about them. Because I'm in it."

    Doctors say he will be OK. NTSB investigators are investigating crew members from the LIRR who were there. The crew members say they're positive they remember setting this brake. Now the investigators have to figure out if they did or not.