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De Blasio Says LIRR Crash Was Not Of 'Magnitude' To Require His Presence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Tom Prendergast, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, and other public officials rushed to the scene when a Long Island Rail Road train crashed into the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn and left more than 100 people injured Wednesday morning.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio was not there.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the mayor said the incident did not demand his presence.

"It's a magnitude question," de Blasio said.

PHOTOS: LIRR Train Crash In Brooklyn

De Blasio said he did not think the incident was as serious as, say, the December 2013 Metro-North Railroad accident in Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx, in which four people died and 63 were injured. So he went ahead instead with plans to view an exhibit of crime photos at the Brooklyn Museum and announce a historic drop in crime.

Kramer asked de Blasio why he did not think the LIRR derailment was of sufficient "magnitude."

Kramer: "I wonder if you were briefed about it, and at what point you decided it wasn't of the magnitude that would require (your presence)."

De Blasio: "Yeah, I was briefed about it right after it happened. Given that, as you heard from (NYPD) Chief (of Transit Joseph) Fox, the most serious injury that we know of to date, thank God, was a broken leg, that just did not, again, seem like the kind of incident we talked about, for example, years ago because there was a horrible tragedy."

The Spuyten Duyvil derailment came up because at the time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was off playing golf in Bermuda. As mayor-elect at the time, de Blasio made it clear he would not be that kind of leader.

"I'll let the current mayor speak for himself," de Blasio told the Wall Street Journal in a Dec. 2, 2013 issue published a day after the Metro-North incident. "For me, it would be, generally speaking, important to be there. I think clearly this was the governor's purview…. (But) my instinct in these things is to be present even if the city is not the lead."

On Wednesday, however, de Blasio said going to the LIRR derailment scene was not his job.

"The Long Island Rail Road, obviously, is the purview of the governor," he said.

The mayor has also come under fire for skipping other events – some more important than others – and for being out of town to do political business.

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