Justin Zemser & Jim Gaines, A Navy Midshipman & Associated Press Employee, Among Amtrak 188 Casualties
Authorities have confirmed that a Navy midshipman and an Associated Press employee died when Amtrak 188 derailed Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The collision — which took at least five other lives, injured more than 200 and has left eight people in critical condition — has brought the Northeast to a standstill as families continue to search for missing loved ones and investigators try to determine what caused the commuter train to leave the tracks. Authorities have not publicly released the names of the other five casualties from Tuesday’s accident and are still trying to account for all of the reported 238 passengers and five crewmembers aboard train 188. Four of the deceased were found in the train, and two outside the wreckage. A seventh individual died in a local hospital Wednesday, said spokesperson Johnny Walker from the Philadelphia Police Department.
Wednesday afternoon, the Navy Academy confirmed that Justin Zemser, a midshipman third class from Rockaway Beach, New York, had died in the collision; the 20-year-old was on his way back home while on leave.
"The Naval Academy is deeply saddened to report that a midshipman was named as one of the passengers who lost their life in the Amtrak train," Naval Academy spokesperson Jennifer Erickson said in a statement. "The midshipman was on leave and en route to their home of record when the accident occurred. The Naval Academy is supporting the midshipman's family, friends and loved ones during this time of grief.”
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus amended her previously scheduled remarks to the students to mark the young midshipman’s passing, The Baltimore Sun reported. "I know that the brigade, the Navy family is struggling with this," Mabus said. "Our thoughts, our prayers go out to family, friends and to the entire brigade for losing Zemser, a crucial member of this institution."
An only child, Zemser was finishing up his second year at the Naval Academy. According to his Navy Sports profile, he played football and served as student government president of his high school.
The Naval Academy said that counseling services and grief support would be available to any students or community members who needed it.
The other publicly known casualty of Tuesday’s accident was Jim Gaines, a video software architect and a longtime employee with the Associated Press. The 48-year-old spent years bolstering the press organization’s work in video journalism.
Gaines was the husband of Jacqueline and the father of two children, ages 11 and 16.
Other passengers, including Rachel Jacobs, the CEO of tech company ApprenNet and mother of one, remain unaccounted for.
“We called, texted and emailed her right when the crash happened, because we knew she was on the train,” ApprenNet COO’s Emily Foote told PhillyMag. “I went to the hospitals last night and she wasn't in any of them. I went to the churches and schools where people are being sheltered, and we still can't find her.”
More than 14 hours after Amtrak 188 jumped the tracks on its way to New York City, the search for people and for answers continues. As investigators start to piece through the data from the train’s black box and interview the train’s conductor, they should begin to understand what caused the six passenger cars to fly off the rails, stranding hundreds in mangled aluminum.