Hills Alumni Survives Hoboken Crash


Class of 2016 alumnus Omar Maamoun was on a middle car of the Pascack Valley line train on his way to his college, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, when the train crashed through the Hoboken Terminal on September 29.

Maamoun, a Woodcliff Lake resident, boarded the train that Thursday morning at his hometown’s train station. The crash occurred during rush hour, and was a hectic and bloody scene.

“I thought it was a bomb until I stepped off the train and saw the whole first car,” the former soccer and track runner said. “It went through the steel bumper and a concrete wall. A quarter of the roof just collapsed on it. The whole front of the train was crushed. By the time we registered that we were moving too fast, probably 50 miles per hour as it approached the station, it was too late. We already had crashed at that point.”

Although Maamoun was fortunate enough to avoid serious injury himself, exiting the car safely with just a minor cut on his forearm, 114 others, including the conductor, were seriously injured, and one person who was waiting to board the train was killed. Maamoun recounted the event as not necessarily the scariest even he’s been involved in, but surely the goriest.

“It was definitely the bloodiest and deadliest thing I’ve ever seen. The first car was just crushed and destroyed. The older woman next to me fell and cut her eye, and the man next to me knocked out a tooth. When I realized I was fine, I went with some other people to go help the first responders help the injured people towards the front of the train. We had to help people get out of the emergency windows because the doors were crumpled shut. Everyone that was coming off was covered, like drenched, in blood. The one woman who died, I saw her lifeless body.”

Even though it was a tragic event for everyone involved and a scare for Maamoun, he did get to enjoy the luxury of his 15 minutes of fame. He said, “Every reporter there wanted to interview me once they found out I was on the train. I came back to check out the scene after I went to class, and one reporter asked me if I knew anything about the train. When I said I was on it, I could tell by her reaction I was the only person there that was on the train. Reports crowded me from networks like CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and even other countries. I was on NBC Nightly News, and they bought me lunch and dinner. Good Morning America wanted to have me on and offered me a hotel room in the city, but it wasn’t convenient with my classes. I Skyped with CNN New Day and was on the Today Show, as well.”
Maamoun is glad he wasn’t one of those injured, but the event isn’t going to change his perspective on trains. “I’m lucky I was okay. I take the train often. This isn’t going to stop me from taking public transportation, but it was a scary moment.”