News » Local News | Sept. 19
The Dinky train station’s overhead canopy collapsed and fell onto the track bed at around 4:25 p.m. Thursday, prompting emergency workers from across the state to respond to the site and search for anyone trapped underneath the fallen structure.
The original emergency call said there was a structure failure with possibility of entrapment, according to a Pennington Fire Company firefighter, who was granted anonymity.
Five workers were believed to be working on the construction site at the time of the collapse. Four of them were immediately confirmed safe, but it was an hour and a half after the search began when the fifth worker was confirmed safe when reached on his cell phone, the firefighter said.
The search concluded at 8:15 p.m., according to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua. Another officer on the scene confirmed that the squads had been searching to see if anyone was trapped.
The old station had been under construction at the time of the collapse, and N.J. Transit service had been operating out of a temporary station approximately 1,200 feet south of it since late August.
Ethan Vasquez ’16 said he heard and felt the collapse from his bedroom in Forbes College.
“It sort of sounded like two loud explosions. You could feel the vibrations. And then probably a minute after that you heard the sirens and all that,” Vasquez explained.
Around 50 rescue workers from counties across the region searched the site using thermal imaging equipment, self-contained breathing apparatuses and a dog, according to reporters at the scene and an on-site, off-duty emergency medical technician rescue worker who was granted anonymity .
Agencies on-site included various counties’ fire departments, the state fire marshal and New Jersey’s Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue (NJTF-1), which specializes in rescuing trapped victims.
The EMT worker said the workers were also using a saw capable of cutting through concrete, steel and metal and that the cause of the collapse appeared to be due to structural failure.
Aneesh Sahni ’14, who was in New South Building at the time of the collapse, said he heard “a continuous booming sound for four or five seconds.”
“I heard a very, very loud noise, and then I looked outside and I saw … the structure fall down on the ground,” Sahni said.
He saw Department of Public Safety officers arrive two or three minutes later, followed by EMTs and firefighters.
Natalya Perina ’17 was walking from Forbes to Frick Chemistry Laboratory at the time of the collapse.
She recalled hearing “a big bang, and then the sound of wood hitting the floor in a pile.” When she turned to look at the station, she saw a large cloud of dust rising over the wreckage, and didn’t see any people nearby.
Princeton Police Sgt. Mike Cifelli said that his department did not respond to the incident and that it was instead handled by the University’s Department of Public Safety.
The old Dinky station was undergoing construction work as part of the University’s plan to build the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, a $330 million development that will include several rehearsal and performance spaces dedicated to arts education on campus. It is scheduled for completion in fall 2017. The old station will be converted into a cafe and restaurant.
Under the construction plan, the Dinky station will be moved 500 feet to the south, which has angered some members of the local community. Six pending lawsuits are currently challenging the station’s relocation.