[UPDATED 4:15 p.m.] Updates to include revised information on power outage from PSE&G spokeswoman.
A NJ Transit passenger train slammed into a tractor-trailer in Little Falls, Wednesday morning, injuring several people, backing up traffic on Pompton Avenue and cancelling trains along the Montclair-Boonton line.
PSE&G crews were originally supposed to disable power in Little Falls around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to work on damaged power lines, but were unable to do so until the damaged tractor-trailer was removed, PSE&G spokesperson Kristine Snodgrass told Patch at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
As of that time, the truck had yet to be removed and power had not been disrupted to Cedar Grove or Little Falls because the truck needed to be righted and towed from the scene.
PSE&G cannot estimate when work will begin, but the power outage will affect 1,300 customers between Cedar Grove’s North End and Little Falls, she said. Information was not available as to how many of the 1,300 customers are in Cedar Grove.
Snodgrass estimated about half of those customers will be without power for two hours once the work begins, but the remainder may be without power for several additional hours.
Chief NJ Transit spokesman John Durso Jr. said the tractor-trailer was attempting to make a left turn onto Fairfield Avenue from Main Street at the time of the accident. The turn is “a very sharp turn,” Durso said.
“The driver attempted to back up and got stuck on the railroad crossing just as the gates were coming down,” he said. The train plowed through the truck at around 8:15 a.m.
Ten people were transported to area hospitals, including eight people from the train, one nearby crossing guard and one firefighter.
Linda Knaver, a Little Falls crossing guard since 1999, was injured from flying debris. Both Knaver and the train’s engineer were transported to area hospitals with “serious injuries,” said Durso.
“They are still assessing her (Knaver), but it seems she may be okay,” said Little Falls Police Chief John Dmuchowski
A Little Falls firefighter injured his arm while rescuing passengers from the train.
The driver of the truck, Jaswinder Singh, 23 of Carteret, was issued tickets for careless driving and violating a crossing, said Durso. Singh was transporting 500 barrels of yellow and white latex paint to S.T.O. Eastern Inc. on Fairfield Avenue.
Eric Murphy, a personal trainer at Pearl Personal Training on Main Street in Little Falls was working when the accident occurred.
“Around 8:10 a.m. I heard a big bang which shook the whole building,” he said. “I looked out the window there was a big pinkish flash from when the transformer blew.”
“I stuck my head out the window and just saw carnage,” he added. “The train blasted through and never stopped.
The train eventually came to a stop down the tracks.
Murphy then ran outside when he saw two people standing around Knaver who was “visibly in pain but not bleeding,” he said.
“I was sitting with her holding her hand and within about 30 seconds more people started to come until the police got there,” said Murphy.
A school bus also stopped in front of the tracks and the children were visibly upset, he said.
Durso said the accident remains under investigation, but warned the accident will “definitely impact the evening commute.”
A total of 71 people were on board the train, according to 7online.com
NJ Transit is reporting the Montclair-Boonton line is shut down and a substitute bus service will be available.
NJ Transit issued the following notices:
- Bus shuttle service will be provided to customers traveling between Montclair State University and Wayne/Route 23 Transit Center. A diesel shuttle train will transport customers from Wayne/Route 23 Transit Center to Denville making ALL station stops.
- If you are traveling from Hoboken Terminal to stations between Denville and Hackettstown, board your normal 1000-series train at Hoboken with the exception of 1085 and 1087.
Patch will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.