Amid NJ train crash, local commuters recall Amtrak derailment

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- On May 12, 2015, eight lives were lost when an engineer who was believed to be distracted hit a curve at more than twice the 50 mile per hour limit.

"You don't think when you get on the train you might not get off alive," said a commuter.

But that's exactly what happened in Philadelphia, and then Thursday morning in Hoboken.

Some details of the crashes are eerily similar.

"It's quite a concern because I ride the train every day," said Brian Gittelman, a commuter of Wynnewood.

Southwest Phildelphia resident Sam Hill says he now drives more.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry," said Hill.

And the potential dangers of train travel is on the top of the minds of area commuters.

"There is always a risk, and you feel that risk," said Jane Agnew of Milton, New York.

And while passengers are looking back to the 2015 crash, they are also praying for Thursday's victims.

"That this would happen again is unthinkable," said Tom Kline, attorney.

Attorneys Tom Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi, who defended clients in the Amtrak crash, say the Philadelphia derailment should have been a wake-up call to the railroad industry that more automatic safety controls are needed.

"The railroad industry hasn't woken up. Speed kills, and Positive Train Control saves lives," said Robert Mongeluzzi, attorney.

In the aftermath of the Amtrack 188 crash, railroads were supposed to be installing automatic speed controls, and breaking mechanisms to counter any possible engineer error. But for those injured here and in New Jersey, that change comes too late.

"I think they need to check themselves more regularly to make sure the trains are safe," said Hill.

"It is just a normal day for them, and then all of the sudden you are not here now," said a commuter.

The deadline for installing Positive Train Controls was extended for local commuter routes. But Thursday's accident will surely put pressure on the railroad industry to quickly add more automatic train safeguards before more lives are lost.
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