Motorman describes fear, panic inside derailed 'A' train

CeFaan Kim Image
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Subway motorman describes panic inside derailed train
CeFaan Kim has the TV exlusive from Harlem.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- There was panic and fear inside the 'A' train, but one motorman says he remained calm. In an exclusive TV interview, Christopher Miller admits he was scared, but he had a job to do.

"When the train goes into an emergency, the lights don't go out - that's simple. That's why we knew it was something different," Miller said.

Miller was in the front car of the train that derailed at 125th Street on Tuesday. He knew right away that something had gone terribly wrong.

"We felt the train try to stop abruptly. It lunged forward, pulled back, and then it slid again, forward and then it stopped. And that's not a regular emergency stop," he adds.

Miller says he applied the handbrakes and kept calm, then focused on one goal - to get all passengers off, through the front two cars of the train that made it to the platform. The problem was, about 500 of the 800 passengers panicked - they felt trapped, engulfed by smoke. Miller's conductors needed help. She was in one of the cars that got shredded.

"She was telling me 'we gotta let these people out back here, because they are kicking out windows and trying to get out through the back,'" he adds.

Those passengers were heading in the wrong direction, away from Miller and his crew. FDNY officials say that was the most dangerous thing that happened on Tuesday.

"To get yourself out there in that situation - to be out on tracks where the third rail could be powered, where trains could be moving at any moment," said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

Miller says once he evacuated everyone, he checked the train. He saw the doors ripped off, and two cars on the tracks, on the ground. That's when he says he felt fear.

He credits his crew for doing everything right in the moment.