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NJ train crash investigators recover data, video recorders

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investigators looking into what caused last week’s fatal New Jersey Transit train crash at Hoboken Terminal have recovered the data and video recorders from the lead car, officials said on Tuesday.

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Jim Southworth, who is leading the National Transportation Safety Board’s examination of the accident, told reporters that investigators removed the recorders at about 10:30 a.m., along with the cell phone and other personal effects of the train’s driver.

The data recorder, similar to an airplane’s black box that tracks speed and other information, may provide clues to what happened when the train went crashing through Hoboken Terminal on Sept. 29, killing a 34-year-old woman and injuring 108 people during the morning rush hour.

The derailment caused serious damage at the historic station, including a partial roof collapse.

“We expect the recorders will be able to provide investigators with speed information, throttle position, braking information” and other data, Southworth said.

The devices recovered from the train were sent to Washington, D.C., for analysis, Southworth said, adding that it was too early to know whether the data recorder is operational. Investigators previously pulled an older data recorder from the train’s rear car but found it was not working.

The damage caused by the crash had raised concerns that the station might be unstable, and it was only on Monday evening that investigators and New Jersey officials concluded that it was safe to enter the train’s first car, Southworth said.

All New Jersey Transit service into and out of Hoboken remains suspended, though other rail services are running, such as the subway-like PATH system that connects to Manhattan.

Thomas Gallagher, the 29-year NJ Transit veteran who was operating the train, has told investigators the train was moving at the speed limit of 10 miles per hour when it was nearing the station but that he does not remember the crash itself.

Witnesses, including passengers on the train, have said the train appeared to enter the station too fast and did not slow down as it approached the platform.

Southworth declined to comment on how fast the train may have been going, saying the data recorder should help answer that question.

Reporting by Joseph Ax and Gina Cherelus; Editing by David Gregorio