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NJ TRANSIT Crash: Investigators Recover Data Recorder, Engineer's Cellphone

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Five days after an NJ TRANSIT train crashed into the Hoboken terminal, killing 34-year-old Fabiola Bittar de Kroon and injuring more than 100 people, investigators were finally able to access the control car and uncover new evidence Tuesday.

Data and video recorders were retrieved from the lead car, the National Transportation Safety Board announced.

"We expect the recorders will be able to provide investigators with speed information, throttle positions, braking system information and about 100 other parameters," said Jim Southworth.

Another recorder was previously recovered from the rear car, but it was not working on the day of the crash, investigators announced Sunday.

The NTSB also retrieved a backpack belonging to the train's engineer, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher, and found his cellphone inside.

"We'll look to see if the cellphone has any information that pertains to the time period during the accident," said Southworth. "This day and age, with all these types of devices we look to see if those were in place or being used at the time of the accident."

NJ TRANSIT Train CrashPhotos | Videos

The NTSB refused to comment on reports that the train was traveling between 20 and 30 miles per hour when it entered the terminal, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported. It should have been slowing to a stop after entering at 10 mph.

Officials said the crew has been cooperative, but Gallagher told investigators that he cannot remember what happened on impact.

Chopper 2 Over Hoboken Terminal

Chopper 2 is checking out Hoboken Terminal as investigators continue to clean up the scene.

Posted by CBS New York on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Hoboken crash was the third in a series of recent NJ TRANSIT accidents.

The week before, two of its buses collided in the Lincoln Tunnel, leaving dozens hurt, and another bus crash in August left two dead in Newark.

As a result, the Federal Railroad Administration started looking into NJ TRANSIT, finding dozens of safety violations, The Associated Press reported.

The chair of the State Assembly Transportation Committee, John Wisniewski, is calling for a hearing to examine the agency and the power to subpoena its records, CBS2's Christine Sloan reported.

"The real problem is you can't run the nation's third largest mass transit system with wishes and hopes. You have to have dollars, and this governor has not seen it necessary to put the dollars to make this system thrive," he said.

Wisniewski, who lead the "Bridgegate" investigation, also pointed to the fact that the agency hasn't had a permanent executive director since December.

"What transportation professional with a reputation to protect is going to want to lead an agency that is so dysfunctional?" he asked. "I can't help but think the inability to find a leader for NJ TRANSIT isn't in some way related to all of the violations that the agency has."

Neither NJ TRANSIT nor New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have responded to CBS2's repeated requests for comments on the alleged violations.

Meanwhile, passengers have started to file claims against NJ TRANSIT for monetary damages for the injuries they sustained in the crash.

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold represents three injured passengers.

"The injuries are unfortunately quite severe," Arnold told 1010 WINS reporter Glenn Schuck. "I have a client who has a fractured leg. I have a client who has a fractured nose, a black eye, loss of vision."

Arnold said her clients are unable to return to work and they're traumatized.

"They're all still shaking, they're all having nightmares, they can't believe it really happened," Arnold said. "NJ TRANSIT has to be held accountable. We don't want this to happen again."

Additional lawsuits are expected.

1010 WINS has reached out to NJ TRANSIT for comment.

NJ TRANSIT is trying to open tracks seven through 11 to restore partial service to the Hoboken terminal, but NTSB said that is at least a day away.

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