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Train crash victims range from midshipman to execs

Eight people were killed in an Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The victims include an Associated Press employee, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, a Wells Fargo executive, the CEO of a technology startup, a college dean, a Maryland businessman, a New York real estate executive and a businessman from Italy.

A brief look at those who died:

Jim Gaines

Associated Press employee Jim Gaines poses for a picture Sept. 7, 2006. AP Photo/Santos Chaparro

Jim Gaines, an Associated Press video software architect, was a geek's geek - and his colleagues loved him for it.

The 48-year-old father of two was named the news agency's Geek of the Month in May 2012 for his "tireless dedication and contagious passion" to technological innovation.

"At AP, not a frame goes by in the world of video that escapes the passionate scrutiny of video architect Jim Gaines," the award said.

Gaines was in the train's quiet car, headed home to Plainsboro, New Jersey, after meetings Tuesday at the news agency's Washington, D.C., office. His wife, Jacqueline, confirmed his death.

"Jim was more precious to us than we can adequately express," his family said in a statement.

Gaines joined the AP in 1998 and was a key factor in nearly all of the news agency's video initiatives, including the successful rollout of high-definition video and the AP's Video Hub - a service that provides live video to hundreds of clients around the world.

In 2006, Gaines' team won the Chairman's Prize for development of the agency's Online Video Network.

Gaines "leaves behind a legacy of professionalism and critical accomplishment, kindness and humor," AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt told employees in an email. "He will be missed."

He is also survived by a 16-year-old son, Oliver, and an 11-year-old daughter, Anushka.

Justin Zemser

U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Justin Zemser is seen in a family photo. Family Photo

Justin Zemser, a popular student leader and athlete, was on a break from the U.S. Naval Academy and heading home to Rockaway Beach, New York, where playing high school football helped him and his teammates through the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called Zemser a "crucial member" of the institution.

The 20-year-old's family released a statement mourning "a loving son, nephew and cousin who was very community-minded." They said the tragedy "has shocked us all in the worst way."

Zemser was in his second year. He served as vice president of the Jewish Midshipmen Club and played wide receiver on the academy's sprint football team. Friends at the Naval Academy remembered him for his endearing leadership qualities.

Midshipman James Lieto recalled how his sprint football teammate helped lead first-year students through the academy's Sea Trials hours before the crash. The trials, which began at 3 a.m. on Tuesday, encompass a rigorous 14-hour day of physical challenges.

Families remember Amtrak train crash victims as hundreds recover

Zemser, who was known as "Z," wore a floppy sun hat in the early morning darkness to lighten the mood.

"He was always there to pick other people up," Lieto said Thursday.

At Channel View School for Research in New York, Zemser was valedictorian, student government president and captain of the football team.

Outside of school, Zemser interned for New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich and former Councilman James Sanders. Ulrich called him "truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man."

Zemser also volunteered with a church program, a soup kitchen and a nursing home and mentored children with autism, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said. Schumer and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks nominated Zemser to the Naval Academy, and Meeks was struck by his "high character, intellectual curiosity and maturity beyond his years."

Abid Gilani

Abid Gilani is seen in an undated photo.

Abid Gilani, a senior vice president in the Hospitality Finance Group for Wells Fargo in New York City, had been with the company for just about a year, according to his LinkedIn page.

A company spokeswoman said Gilani was one of the people killed in the Amtrak derailment.

"Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy," a statement read.

Before joining Wells Fargo, Gilani had been with Marriott International for eight years.

The company said Gilani, originally from Canada, split his time between Washington and New York. He was a married father of two.

Rachel Jacobs

Rachel Jacobs is seen in an undated photo.

Rachel Jacobs, a leader in the increasingly technology-driven worker-training and development industry, was commuting home to New York from her new job as CEO of the Philadelphia educational software startup ApprenNet.

The 39-year-old mother of two previously worked at McGraw-Hill, leading the expansion of the company's career-learning business into China, India and the Middle East, and Ascend Learning, another education-technology firm.

Jacobs is the daughter of Gilda Jacobs, a former Michigan state senator and current chief executive of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The family said in a statement that Rachel Jacobs "was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend" who was devoted to family and social justice.

She was a founder and board chairwoman at Detroit Nation, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting startups in her Michigan hometown.

Through the organization, Jacobs helped bring the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to New York for its first concert at Carnegie Hall in 17 years.

She attended Swarthmore College and Columbia Business School. She joined ApprenNet in March and had planned on moving to Philadelphia.

Derrick Griffith

Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn Medgar Evers College

Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, believed in education - for himself as well as others.

He formerly was a school principal, and in 2003, he founded the City University of New York Preparatory Transitional High School. He also was executive director of Groundwork, Inc., an organization formed to support young people living in poor urban communities.

Griffith joined Medgar Evers College in 2011 as assistant provost. It was the first of a number of roles he would fill at the college, where officials said he urged students to pursue education "with vigor."

A month ago, the 42-year-old received a Ph.D. in urban education from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Bob Gildersleeve

Bob Gildersleeve is seen in an undated photo.

Bob Gildersleeve, who's from Maryland, worked for Ecolab for 22 years and lived near Baltimore, company spokesman Roman Blahoski said.

His wife, Danna Leiner Gildersleeve, said the couple celebrated its 18th wedding anniversary on Sunday, Mother's Day.

"He has been my best friend for 29 years," she said. "... A loving son, brother and was definitely the 'fun' uncle to his nieces and nephews. He was funny and sarcastic and could light up any room with his presence, humor and enthusiasm."

Gildersleeve was Ecolab's vice president of corporate accounts for institutional business in North America.

"Bob was an exceptional leader and was instrumental to our success. We will greatly miss him, and our thoughts go out to his beloved family members and friends," the company said.

Gildersleeve's family had traveled to Philadelphia after the crash, circulating his photo and information about what he was wearing, hoping that he was only missing.

He had a ticket for the train that crashed Tuesday, his father said, and relatives were unable to get information from Amtrak on his whereabouts.

Gildersleeve was married with two children, ages 16 and 13.

Laura Finamore

Laura Finamore is seen in an undated photo. Family photo

Laura Finamore, 47, was returning to New York City from a memorial service for a college friend's mother, a spokesman for her family said.

The Manhattan resident had texted her mother that she was boarding the train. Her parents saw stories about the crash at about midnight Tuesday and began making calls to area hospitals looking for her.

They got word on Wednesday that the seventh victim of the derailment fit her description, but dental records were needed to confirm it.

Born in Queens, Finamore worked in corporate real estate, and was a senior account director at Cushman & Wakefield.

"Laura was a tenacious deal maker and competitor who never backed down from what she thought was right," her family said in a statement.

"Laura's smile could light up a room and her infectious laughter will be remembered by many for years to come. She was always there when you needed her - with a hug, encouraging words or a pat on the back," the family said.

Finamore is survived by her parents, three brothers, and seven nieces and nephews.

Giuseppe Piras

An undated photo of Giuseppe Piras. La Nuova Sardegna

The Italian embassy in Washington confirmed to CBS News that Italian citizen Giuseppe Piras died in the Amtrak crash.

Consul General Andrea Canepari told the Associated Press the 41-year-old man's family had contacted consulate officials in the U.S. after they were unable to reach him by phone. His death was confirmed to consulate officials Wednesday afternoon.

Canepari says he had spoken to the victim's brother to offer assistance.

Piras, who hailed from the town of Ittiri on the Mediterranean island, co-founded an olive oil and wine cooperative and was tasked with marketing its goods for export, according to Italian media.

A number of other foreign travelers have been listed as survivors. They include passengers from Spain, France, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Algeria and Singapore.

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