Chris Gross was on the train going home, watching a Mel Brooks movie on a laptop. Then came a crash that could have killed him.
He was one of the hundreds of passengers who escaped the commuter train that collided with an SUV on Tuesday night north of New York, killing six people and sending 12 others to the hospital.
Gross told NBC News that he was in the first car of the train. All five of the people who died on the train were in the same car. The SUV driver was also killed.
“I heard a loud bang,” he recalled. “I checked across. The woman across from me, she said that we hit something.”
Then came another jolt. “I hit the ground. People fell on top of me. I turned around, saw utter chaos going through. The guy in front of me either lost or broke his leg. The guy across the way from him either lost of broke his leg.”
At one point, he said, flames were a foot from his face. Gross clambered to safety and helped other passengers. He said he easily could have died if he hadn’t acted quickly, or if another passenger hadn’t helped open the door that let people out of the first car.
“There’s no words to describe how surreal it is to be talking to you guys right now,” he said.
— Erin McClam