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NJ TRANSIT Train Crashes Into Car On Tracks In Hackensack; Driver Escapes Alive

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- An NJ TRANSIT train struck a vehicle in Hackensack on Monday. The vehicle was totaled, but crews were able to save the driver.

NJ TRANSIT said the driver of the car was the only occupant and she was taken to the hospital conscious and alert, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported.

It happened near the Essex Street train station on the Pascack Valley Line around 8 a.m. The train was bound for Hoboken.

"Right now, my mother is in stable condition. Thank god," said Judy Vazquez, the driver's daughter who spoke exclusively with Rozner.

According to Vazquez, her mother, 61-year-old Genoveva Martinez, was behind the wheel of the car that got stuck on the tracks at the Essex Street crossing.

"She stopped here, but she didn't see the train coming. So, there's a delay in the latch. The latch came too slow. By the time she crossed, the train already had hit her," Vazquez said. "She couldn't get out."

The train pushed Martinez's car several hundred feet. Close to one dozen firefighters responded. Incredible photos show the crushed car and firefighters vigorously trying to get the woman out in front of the stopped train.

"The extrication took approximately 25 minutes," said Capt. Justin Derevyanik. "We had to cut the roof off and then remove the passenger side doors and then remove the passenger side seat to get access to the victim."

Martinez is being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center. In fact, she works there and was heading home from her job as a patient care technician when the crash happened.

"She has a brain bleed. She has fractured ribs. She has facial trauma," Vazquez said.

Vazquez said her mother drives through the crossing daily. Luckily, Martinez had not yet picked up her 4-year-old granddaughter.

According to Vazquez, the train that struck her mother's car was already coming to a stop.

"If it had been an express, she would not have made it," Vazquez said. "Every year, or every other year, we always have accidents... They never fix this and it's unfortunate that people have to get injured again."

"Sometimes the gates don't always go down right," said Charlene Flatley, who live in Hackensack. "Sometimes they're confused about going through, if it's safe or not."

An NJ TRANSIT spokesperson said the incident remains under investigation, however preliminary reports indicate the safety devices were working.

None of the 30 passengers on the train were hurt.

Martinez's family said this is her second time in the hospital this year. She spent a week fighting COVID-19 in April.


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