N.J. train crash: One data recorder wasn't working, other remains inaccessible

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One of the data recorders on the New Jersey transit that crashed last week wasn't working, further complicating investigators' struggle to figure out exactly what went wrong, authorities said Sunday.

A woman was killed and more than 100 other people were injured Thursday morning when the NJ Transit train slammed into Hoboken Terminal.

Authorities have said the terminal's signals appeared to be working normally but that the train was traveling far too fast, but Bella Dinh-Zarr, vice chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Sunday that the engineer has told investigators that he was going only 10 mph.

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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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That discrepancy could be resolved with data from the train's two event recorders, or "black boxes." Only one of the recorders has been recovered — and it turned out not to have been working during the trip, Dinh-Zarr said.

The non-functioning recorder was manufactured in 1995, "so it is quite old," she said, and "we can only hope that the other one will work."

But that recorder is still on the train, along with its front camera — inaccessible three days after the crash because of damage to the Hoboken Terminal platform, she said.

The tangle of downed and twisted beams around the front of the train looks like "a dangerous version of pickup sticks," Dinh-Zarr said. If just one is moved the wrong way, she said, "the consequences would be very serious."

In addition, dangerously high levels of asbestos in the air forced investigators to leave the scene Friday, sources told NBC News.

Meanwhile, toxicology tests on the train's engineer, Thomas Gallagher, 48, are being analyzed. He told investigators that he was fully rested before the crash and had successfully completed all braking tests, Dinh-Zarr said.

In fact, according to Dinh-Zarr, the engineer maintained that there was nothing unusual about the trip — except for how crowded it was.

The train normally would have had five cars when it pulled into the terminal during the morning rush hour, Dinh-Zarr said, but it was carrying only four cars on Thursday, and it was so crowded that the conductor was unable to collect fares from the passengers.

Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation told NBC News that a probe into NJ Transit's safety, which began in June, had already found dozens of violations.

Related: NJ Transit Was Probed Over Safety Before Hoboken Crash: Source

Federal regulators were preparing a consent decree ordering the agency to take immediate safety steps even before the crash, the source said.

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