BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
UPDATED An F train on the express track in Woodside derailed this morning just before 11 a.m., leaving 19 people injured, with 4 suffering potentially serious injuries, according to MTA chairman Tom Prendergast.
The MTA estimated that around 1,000 people were on the train at the time. The train stopped between stations, in an area that was dark and without ventilation, and accumulated a substantial cloud of dust. According to the FDNY, a major priority was maintaining a calm, safe evacuation under these circumstances.
Foad Faridzadeh was on the train when it derailed. “The whole place started shifting out of place,” he said, “and I saw smoke and sparks coming in.” He said he remembers inhaling smoke, and hearing passengers screaming and calling out to one another.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) was present in the aftermath of the derailment. He praised the response and the straphangers stuck inside the train.
“I think the calm of the people who were in the trains and the presence of the first responders made this as safe an evacuation as could possibly happen,” he said.
“I think the MTA was out here incredibly quickly as well,” he added. “We’re going to be in close contact with the MTA as they investigate this, do everything we can in the City Council to work with them find out how this happened, why this happened, and what we need to do to make sure this never happens again.”
According to the MTA, service changes include no E or F train service between 71st Ave.-Forest Hills and Queens Plaza in both directions; M train service is suspended between 71st Ave.and Essex Street in both directions; R train service is also suspended from 71st Ave and 57th Street in both directions.
The MTA advises commuters to use the 7 and J trains to and from Manhattan.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said in a statement sent out Friday afternoon that she was also interested in reviewing the results of the investigation, in the hopes of preventing a similar incident in the future.
“We are fortunate in that recent safety enhancements have already made subway derailments extremely rare,” she said, “but there is always room for improvement when it comes to safety.
Katz also lauded subway passengers for the way they have handled the situation.
“Queens transit riders have shown extraordinary patience as they have coped with the service disruptions caused by the derailment,” she said. “I commend them for their patience, which once again shows that Queens residents are able to stick together and help each other cope during difficult times.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.