'I saw the body': NJ crash witnesses describe bloody scene

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HOBOKEN, N.J., Sept 29 (Reuters) - New Jersey Transit train No. 1614 headed south from Spring Valley, New York, shortly before 7:30 a.m., and for 16 stops it was a typical weekday morning commute for hundreds of passengers.

But around 8:45 a.m., as the train approached its final destination in Hoboken, which sits on the Hudson River facing Manhattan, Linda Albelli, 62, realized from her seat in the rear of the train that something was not right.

"I thought to myself, 'Oh my God, he's not slowing up, and this is where we usually stop,'" she told Reuters in a phone interview.

See photos from the scene

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NJ transit train crashes in Hoboken Station
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NJ transit train crashes in Hoboken Station
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Train personel survey the NJ Transit train that crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: A NJ Transit train seen through the wreckage after it crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
Hoboken police officers look over the scene of a train crash where a New Jersey Transit train derailed and crashed through the station, injuring more than 100 people, in Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S. September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Emergency workers arrive at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. There are preliminary reports of a crash with multiple serious injuries at the station, after a train struck a train station in Hoboken, New Jersey, with reports of injuries and possible mass casualties. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Passengers rush to safety after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Passengers rush to safety after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
Emergency workers help an injured person at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A packed commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour Thursday, with three people reported killed and more than 100 injured, many of them in critical condition. The train failed to stop as it pulled into Hoboken station,, causing major damage to the transit hub just over the Hudson river from Manhattan. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured woman is evacuated at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A packed commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour Thursday, with three people reported killed and more than 100 injured, many of them in critical condition. The train failed to stop as it pulled into Hoboken station,, causing major damage to the transit hub just over the Hudson river from Manhattan. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers help an injured person at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A packed commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour Thursday, with three people reported killed and more than 100 injured, many of them in critical condition. The train failed to stop as it pulled into Hoboken station,, causing major damage to the transit hub just over the Hudson river from Manhattan. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: People are treated for their injuries on the street after a New Jersey Transit train crashed into the platform at Hoboken Terminal during morning rush hour September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. According to reports, 3 people have been killed and over 100 injured. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: People are treated for their injuries outside after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: A NJ Transit train seen through the wreckage after it crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: Passengers rush to safety after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: The roof collapse after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at the Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
Emergency workers arrive at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said, with dozens of people reportedly injured. 'Due to a NJ Transit train derailment at #Hoboken Station, NJ, all PATH train service in and out of Hoboken Station is suspended,' New York's official emergency information system tweeted. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Commuters gather at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said, with dozens of people reportedly injured. 'Due to a NJ Transit train derailment at #Hoboken Station, NJ, all PATH train service in and out of Hoboken Station is suspended,' New York's official emergency information system tweeted. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
HOBOKEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 29: People are treated for their injuries outside after a NJ Transit train crashed in to the platform at Hoboken Terminal September 29, 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Photo by Pancho Bernasconi/Getty Images)
Emergency workers give aid to an injured person at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said, with dozens of people reportedly injured. 'Due to a NJ Transit train derailment at #Hoboken Station, NJ, all PATH train service in and out of Hoboken Station is suspended,' New York's official emergency information system tweeted. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers gather outside New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said, with dozens of people reportedly injured. 'Due to a NJ Transit train derailment at #Hoboken Station, NJ, all PATH train service in and out of Hoboken Station is suspended,' New York's official emergency information system tweeted. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Emergency workers help an injured person at New Jersey Transit's rail station in Hoboken, New Jersey September 29, 2016. A commuter train crashed into a station in New Jersey during the morning rush hour on Thursday, officials said, with dozens of people reportedly injured. 'Due to a NJ Transit train derailment at #Hoboken Station, NJ, all PATH train service in and out of Hoboken Station is suspended,' New York's official emergency information system tweeted. / AFP / Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
⚠️NJTransit Train Struck Hoboken Terminal. Major Structural Damage, Multiple Injuries. Expect Major Delays… https://t.co/c5tSl2Wlz9
A commuter train ran right through Hoboken Station in NJ just now. https://t.co/BcizrqRgkL https://t.co/kP1KTIbdeh
Train crash at hoboken station https://t.co/Ii8IhdSadK
A train just crash into platform in Hoboken NJ. #prayforhoboken https://t.co/1soaDI4eec
Following the #Hoboken train crash this AM. Every medic, cop & firefighter is here. MANY injuries. https://t.co/YyrfinYfHo
Omg crash at Hoboken #hoboken #traincrash https://t.co/jvcIAml9Pz
A New Jersey Transit train derailed and crashed through the station in Hoboken, New Jersey during the morning rush hour.
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Seconds later, the train careened through Hoboken Terminal, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others in what witnesses described as a chaotic and terrifying scene.

Jaime Weatherhead-Saul, who boarded the train in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, was standing between the first and second cars when the train hurtled into the terminal's concourse, causing part of the building's roof to collapse.

"The train just felt like it never stopped," she said. "There were people right in front of me that had fallen on top, that had toppled over one another, and they had some injuries. The people in front of me were badly injured. And then we just heard people screaming in the first car."

Mike Scelzl was sitting in the first car, not paying attention, when the train suddenly derailed.

"When we pulled in, there was screaming," he said. "Not screams of hurt but screams of shock."

In the station, William Blaine, a Norfolk Southern train engineer, had just gotten off a freight train and was getting coffee when he heard what sounded like a bomb going off.

"When I ran over, I practically stepped over a deceased person," he said. "I saw the body."

Mike Larson, a New Jersey Transit machinist, was also in the station when he heard a deafening explosion as the train smashed through a bumper stop at the end of the track and flew through the air.

"It's hard to believe," said Larson, whose pants were stained with a victim's blood. "I've never seen anything like that in 29 years."

The crash sent people sprinting for safety. Erica Schaffer, 35, was walking to her office nearby after getting breakfast when she heard a huge crash, followed by people running out of the station, some screaming, some bleeding.

Injured passengers trapped inside the first car managed to escape through the train's windows, as fellow commuters and first responders helped pull them out.

"Once we got off we noticed that people were stuck and they had to come through the windows," Weatherhead-Saul said. "And the conductor came off and he was completely bloodied."

Passengers toward the rear of the train were more fortunate.

Amy Krulewitz, who was in the fourth car, said the doors opened and commuters were able to walk off in an orderly manner. When she saw the train's first two cars, she was "stunned."

"I had no idea what the front of a train could look like," she said.

Several people, possibly commuters who had been waiting on the platform, were trapped under rubble, several witnesses said, although officials said they were quickly freed and taken to local hospitals.

Dozens of people were carried out on stretchers, as emergency personnel streamed in and out of the station.

"When we got on the platform there was nowhere to go," Albelli said. "The ceiling had come down. There was just so much, a lot of people in need of attention."

(Additional reporting by Catherine Ngai in Jersey City, N.J., and David Ingram in New York; Writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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