College dean identified as victim of Amtrak crash
A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman. A Wells Fargo executive. An Associated Press video software architect. A chief executive of a small tech company.
They are among the seven people who died in Tuesday night’s derailment of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 in Philadelphia.
Late Wednesday, Derrick Griffith, the dean of students at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn was identified as one of the people killed in the crash.
Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which runs between Washington and Boston, is North America’s busiest railroad, with 11.6 million riders in fiscal year 2014. Every day, trains reaching speeds between 125 mph and 150 mph carry government officials, college students, people getting away for the weekend and corporate commuters along 363 miles of track.
Train 188 was on its way from Washington to New York, carrying 238 passengers and five crew members at the end of another workday.
Here’s a closer look at some of the victims:
Dr. Derrick Griffith, a dean of student affairs for City University of New York Medgar Evers College, was also among the fatalities, according to Jamilah Fraser, spokeswoman for the university. He lived in Brooklyn.
He was the founding director of CUNY Prep in New York, Fraser said. He earned his doctorate in philosophy last month.
The U.S. Naval Academy midshipman described as a “great kid and genius” was identified from the name emblazoned on his uniform, a family member said.
Zemser, 20, was from Rockaway Beach in Queens. He was a sophomore at the Annapolis academy, according to his Naval Academy profile.
The academy notified his family of his death Tuesday night, a family member said. His parents “are beside themselves.”
“The Brigade of Midshipman, staff and faculty were notified of the midshipman’s death this morning,” the Naval Academy said. “The Naval Academy is supporting the midshipman's family, friends and loved ones during this time of grief.”
Zemser attended Channel View High School and was a two-year letter winner on the football team as a wide receiver. He was team captain in 2011 and 2012, when he was named to the All-Borough Team. He also was elected as the student government president.
“He was a loving son, nephew and cousin, who was very community-minded. This tragedy has shocked us all in the worst way, and we wish to spend this time grieving with our close family and friends,” said Zemser’s mother, Susan Zemser.
The death of Associated Press video software architect Jim Gaines, who once won the company’s “Geek of the Month” award, was confirmed by his wife, Jacqueline, the news service reported.
The Associated Press said Gaines was a 48-year-old father of two. He had been attending meetings in Washington and was returning home to Plainsboro, New Jersey. He is also survived by his 16-year-old son, Oliver, and daughter, Anushka, 11.
In a statement, Jacqueline Gaines said: “Jim was more precious to us than we can adequately express. We kindly request that you respect our wishes for privacy as we absorb this incredible loss. In due time, we will make a statement that will fully reflect the incredible person that Jim was.”
Gaines had worked for the wire service since 1998. He was a video software architect, meaning he worked on the wire's distribution of news video to customers around the world.
The death of Wells Fargo executive Abid Gilani was confirmed by his company. He was senior vice president of its hospitality finance group and was a “valued member” of the division, a company spokeswoman said.
Rachel Jacobs was chief executive of the small tech company ApprenNet. She is survived by her husband and 2-year-old son.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy. Rachel was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend,” her family said. “She was devoted to her family, her community and the pursuit of social justice. We cannot imagine life without her.”
Others are not identified
The identities of the other people killed have not been released.
Hospitals have treated more than 200 others, many of whom have been released. That figure includes eight in critical condition at Temple University Hospital, the closest trauma center to the crash site, according to Herb Cushing, the hospital’s medical director. He said many passengers were injured when other passengers or objects fell on them.
Authorities have not ruled out the possibility of more victims at the crash site.
Robert Gildersleeve, an executive at Ecolab, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based chemical company, remains missing. His sister-in-law told CNN the father of two had been going to New York on business.