Tag Archives: Amtrak

Douglaston native killed in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

A 47-year-old real estate executive, formerly from Douglaston, has been identified as one of the eight victims of Tuesday night’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Laura Finamore, a senior account director at Cushman & Wakefield, grew up in Douglaston and graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School and George Washington University. She was living in Manhattan immediately prior to her death.

Finamore joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2008 and according to her family was known among her peers as “someone who would go above and beyond for her clients, to always exceed their expectations.”

“Laura’s smile could light up a room and her infectious laughter will be remembered by many for years to come. She was always there when you needed her — with a hug, encouraging words or a pat on the back,” her family said in a statement.

Finamore is survived by her parents Cynthia and Richard, three brothers, Michael, Paul and Peter, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.

“Laura was an incredibly loving and giving person, touching many people each and every day through her generous spirit, thoughtfulness and compassion for others,” her family said. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”

Funeral services for Finamore will be at Fairchild Sons Inc. in Manhasset, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in her name.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday that Amtrak train 188 was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

In addition to the eight people who died in the accident, more than 200 people were injured, including the conductor and engineer.

Another one of the victims was 20-year-old Justin Zemser, a naval midshipman, who was on leave and heading home to visit his family in Rockaway.

An investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

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Engineer of derailed Amtrak train identified as Forest Hills man


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via LinkedIn

Updated Thursday, May 14, 12:25 p.m. 

A 32-year-old Forest Hills resident has been identified as the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, leaving eight people dead, including a naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, reports said.

Brandon Bostian was at the controls of the train, headed from Washington D.C. to New York City, when it went off the tracks about 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, according to published reports.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead, more than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s engineer and conductor.

According to ABC News, after being treated at the hospital, Bostian was released and taken to the Philadelphia Police Department. He later declined to give police a formal statement and asked for a lawyer, which he has since hired.

His attorney told ABC News that Bostian, who suffered a concussion and head injury that required 14 staples, only recalls heading to the crash area and getting tossed around before coming to. He added that his client spoke to police for at least five hours and would be available to answer more questions. The attorney also said that Bostian told him he was on no medications and had “no health issues” before the derailment.

According to Philadelphia’s NBC10, Bostian handed over his cellphone to detectives and gave a blood sample. After interviewing  him on Wednesday, police are expected to do so again in the future.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reportedly has not yet met with him, but want to give him a day or so to get over the traumatic event.

Bostian, according to his LinkedIn profile, has worked for Amtrak since 2006, first as a conductor, then as an engineer starting in 2010. His work as an Amtrak engineer included as stint on Caltrain in the Bay area between 2010 and 2011, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Before joining Amtrak, Bostian worked as a cashier at Target, his profile said, and graduated in 2006 from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The NTSB confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt also said Wednesday that the engineer applied full emergency brakes “just moments” before the derailment, CNN reported.

Among the confirmed deaths in the Tuesday derailment was 20-year-old Rockaway Beach resident Justin Zemser. The United States Naval Academy cadet was traveling home when he was killed.

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20-year-old Rockaway man among seven dead in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Updated Thursday, May 14 10:43 a.m. 

A 20-year-old naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, who was on his way home, is among the seven people killed after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to reports.

Justin Zemser, who was on leave, as a cadet at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland was on his way home to visit family in Rockaway.

The academy confirmed the death of Zemser, who was a sophmore midshipman third class. He was a member of the 17th Company at the academy, an English major and academic honor student. Zemser was also on the Navy Sprint Football Team, the Jewish Midshipman Club, and the Semper Fi Society.

“Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Zemser family, and our extended USNA family, during this very difficult time,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter.

Zemser’s parents released a statement on a Facebook page created in memory of their son, who was valedictorian at Channel View High School and finishing his second year at the academy. The page, titled “RIP Justin Zemser” garnered over 3,000 likes and features a profile photo of the young man with his mother, who lost her only child.

“He was a loving son, nephew and cousin, who was very community minded,” the statement said. “This tragedy has shocked us in the worst way and we wish to spend this time grieving with out close family and friends.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district covers the Rockaways, sent out his condolences to Zemser’s family and called the young man  a “good Rockaway neighbor.”

“My deepest condolences and prayers go out to the family of Justin Zemser, a Rockaway resident who passed away as a result of the Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night. News of his passing was reported by the media. I understand Justin was returning home from his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy,” Addabbo said. “Many in Rockaway, including my staff member Sandee Doremus, had known Justin since he was a child and knew him to be a good Rockaway neighbor. Justin’s commitment to serve our country is still and always will be greatly appreciated.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents the Rockaways, also sent out his condolences to the family of the cadet, who was a former intern at his office.

“Today, the Rockaway community mourns the death of Justin Zemser, a local resident and former intern in my office, who lost his life last night in the tragic Amtrak train derailment. Justin was truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man,” Ulrich said. “My deepest prayers and sympathy go out to his family and friends who are grieving during this very difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Zemser was also an intern at Councilman Donovan Richards’s office, who expressed his sadness upon hearing the news of his death.

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard's office)

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard’s office)

“I was greatly pained by last night’s train derailment, a pain that quickly intensified when I recognized one of the victims,” Richards said. “Justin Zemser showed great commitment and initiative as an intern in our office, well before he dedicated his life to our country by joining the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rising star that will be greatly missed by the Rockaway community. His family is in my prayers and my office is always open if there is any way in which we can help.”

According to reports, the Amtrak train, which had left Washington and was heading to New York, derailed around 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.

More than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s conductor.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Emergency responders are on scene and the investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

Service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston, according to Amtrak. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.

Anyone with questions about friends or family on the train can call the Amtrak Incident Hotline at 800-523-9101.

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LIC Partnership offers a snapshot of Long Island City’s growth now and for the future


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jessica Frankl

It’s no secret that real estate in Long Island City is booming.

Thousands of apartments have been built within the last decade and land prices have risen to historic highs. With the influx of residents, the retail side is witnessing growth and more offices are moving across the East River.

In front of hundreds of real estate industry members at the LIC Partnership’s ninth annual real estate breakfast on Wednesday, experts agreed that it’s a good time for the area as it blooms into one of New York’s most desirable neighborhoods, and that real estate activity is set to multiply.

“Today’s breakfast featured a very enthusiastic discussion among some of the area’s industry leaders on the growth and demand for real estate in Long Island City,” said David Brause, president of Brause Realty, who moderated the panel discussion at the event. “The general consensus is that it’s a great time to be in this market, and that the area will only continue to take off in the coming years.”

More than 8,600 residential units have been completed in LIC since 2006, and more than 22,500 units are in the planning or construction phase, according to a LIC Partnership analysis released simultaneously with the event.

Some additional growth may come by way of the Sunnyside Yards — a rail yard used by Amtrak, the MTA and New Jersey Transit — where Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to develop 11,250 affordable housing units, schools, open spaces and community facilities. The city’s Economic Development Corporation will announce the company that will perform a yearlong feasibility study for that plan in the coming weeks.

If accomplished, the Sunnyside Yards plan could again expand LIC, but panelists at the event weren’t immediately on board with the ambitious idea, which has been pitched for decades by various figures.

“My attitude is every time everyone gets all these visions, I’m like you know what I don’t have time for this,” said panelist David Dishy, president of development and acquisition at L+M Development Partners.

DSC_1810B

LIC Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin addressing the crowd.

One thing that is clear is that more and more people want to buy homes and stay in LIC.  To meet the high demand for homes — and rising land values — developers are pushing to build more condos.

However, buying residential property in the neighborhood is also becoming a pricey endeavor. The average price for condominiums in the first three months of 2015 was $678,333 for a studio, $820,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and $1.1 million for a two-bedroom unit, according to the LIC Partnership analysis.

The neighborhood has also emerged as a hotel destination for New York City. More than 20 hotels have opened in the area in seven years and 26 more are planned or currently under construction, the Partnership said.

The foot traffic increase in LIC has helped fill in vacant spaces on retail corridors, but for most it’s still hard to pinpoint the neighborhood’s Main Street.

“It’s hard to point it out, but I would say Vernon [Boulevard],” said Matthew Baron, president of Simon Baron Development. “There’s really no Main Street, but I think that’s okay.”

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Whitestone resident petitions again for Metro-North stops in western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin

The wheels are turning once again for one Queens resident who hopes to bring more transportation options to the borough.

Ali Fadil, a Whitestone resident who previously lived in Astoria and Jackson Heights, has started an online petition calling on the MTA to bring Metro-North Railroad access into western Queens as part of its plan to expand the line to Penn Station.

In the MTA’s 2015-2019 $32 billion Capital Program, the agency plans a project that would take the Metro-North’s New Haven line directly to Penn Station, adding four new stations in the Bronx. As part of expansion, the line would use existing track, owned by Amtrak, to go directly into Manhattan.

In doing this, the line would go into Queens but without making any stops in the borough.

“Metro-North wants to run trains through Queens but has no interest in serving Queens, especially since western Queens has seen a lot of growth in the past years,” Fadil said.

This is Fadil’s second petition regarding the expanding of Metro-North stops into the borough. In 2012, when he was only 18, Fadil began his initial petition which gathered 263 signatures. He said the support he got the first time around helped him make his plan more specific on what needs to be done.

“I am here to make sure that our communities get what we deserve and Queens shouldn’t be left out in the cold,” said Fadil, who is a senior studying political science and sociology at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. “When it comes to public transportation, it’s Queens that’s the forgotten borough, not Staten Island.”

The 20-year-old’s petition, which started on Monday and as of Tuesday has 44 signatures, calls on the transportation agency to bring the New Haven line to western Queens and also study two locations along the Amtrak line to be considered for stations. The locations are Astoria Boulevard between 41st and 44th streets, and Northern Boulevard at Broadway, which is close to the M and R trains and two local buses.

The petition also calls on Amtrak to make “necessary structural repairs” to the tracks which go over the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria and would be used during the expansion of the Metro-North New Haven line.

According to Fadil, the existing Amtrak line is “falling apart” and in need of repair.

In the capital program, the MTA said the Metro-North expansion would include upgrades to power and signal systems, installing of new track and realigning existing tracks, and replacing railroad bridges to accommodate more trains.

According to an MTA spokesperson, there are no plans to construct a Metro-North station in Queens because it is too costly to build an elevated station for a low ridership.

“If I see something that isn’t being done right, I want to see it done right for people,” Fadil said. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Fadil said he now hopes to get support from local elected officials and leaders to help make his ideas a reality.

To check out the petition, click here.

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Mayor de Blasio calls Biden LaGuardia comments ‘inappropriate’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Mayor de Blasio, responding to comments Vice President Joe Biden made a day earlier comparing LaGuardia Airport to a third world country, called his words “inappropriate.”

It was not his  “finest moment,” the mayor said, answering reporters’ questions at a press conference Friday.

“LaGuardia obviously needs an upgrade, but that being said, the airport manages an extraordinary amount of traffic and the people who work there make it work under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden made the remarks while reportedly speaking about infrastructure in Philadelphia Thursday at an event to unveil Amtrak’s newest engine.

“If you blindfolded someone and took them at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said where do you think you are, they’d say, ‘this must be in America, this is a modern airport,'” Biden said. “If I took you in blindfolded and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’ I’m not joking!”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address this January, said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.

Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

 

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Vice President Biden says LaGuardia Airport is like ‘third world country’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/ PoliticsNoww·

Vice President Joe Biden, while reportedly speaking about infrastructure in Philadelphia Thursday, said LaGuardia Airport was similar to a “third world country.”

“If you blindfolded someone and took them at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said where do you think you are, they’d say, ‘this must be in America, this is a modern airport,'” Biden said. “If I took you in blindfolded and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’ I’m not joking!”

Biden was at the Pennsylvania event to unveil Amtrak’s newest engine, according to AP.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address this January, said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.

Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 43. Winds from the NNE at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 37. Winds from the ENE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  “The Show” with Chris Laker

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Clear in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 48. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 20 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 mph.
Tuesday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 34. Breezy. Winds from the NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Benjamin Britten: The Complete Cello Suites

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Mayor Bloomberg to sign bill banning tobacco sales to anyone under 21

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Stop-and-frisk actions down 80 percent compared with last year

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Oxford dictionaries name “selfie” the 2013 Word of the Year

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy. High of 59. Breezy. Winds from the West at 10 to 20 mph. Monday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 43. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: EXPO 1: New York

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Monday last day for morning-after pill appeal

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