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Track Worker Killed by Metro-North Train, MTA Says

By  Murray Weiss and Aidan Gardiner | March 10, 2014 7:35am | Updated on March 10, 2014 1:24pm

 An MTA worker was struck by a Metro-North train in East Harlem Monday, officials said.
An MTA worker was struck by a Metro-North train in East Harlem Monday, officials said.
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MANHATTAN — An MTA worker died after being struck by a Metro-North train in East Harlem Monday morning, officials said.

James Romansoff, 58, was finishing up weekend track work with two others near Park Avenue and East 106th Street when the train hit him about 1 a.m., MTA and FDNY officials said.

Preliminary investigation indicated it was an accident and that the worker left the blocked off work area to retrieve an item when he was hit, sources said.

"They knew the train was coming, but he apparently walked off for something," a source said.

Romansoff, who had worked for the MTA for eight years, was taken to Mount Sinai hospital and pronounced dead, the MTA said.

"The entire Metro-North family mourns the loss of a colleague and a friend and we offer our deepest condolences to Jim Romansoff's family,” said Metro-North President, Joseph Giulietti.

Romansoff and his crew were restoring power to the tracks after they were closed for weekend maintenance, the MTA said.

Neighbors described hearing a loud screech about 1 a.m.

Jovanna McCoy, who was at her mother's home at 102nd Street and Park Avenue, ran to the window overlooking the elevated tracks and watched as emergency responders converged on the accident site, she said.

"I'm devastated to find out this man has died," McCoy said.

Thirty-six people were aboard the Hudson line train that had just left Grand Central en route to Poughkeepsie, the MTA said.

The motorman knew about work in the area and was driving accordingly before he hit Romansoff, sources said.

The passengers were transferred to another train and continued their journey north about 2:15 a.m., the MTA said.

The train that hit Romansoff was taken away by daybreak, McCoy said.

The MTA, along with two federal agencies, was still investigating the circumstances of the incident, a spokesman said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was dispatching three investigators, they said.

"Keeping our customers and employees safe is the most important job we have on the railroad," Giulietti said.

Monday's train fatality came seven days after the MTA unveiled its "100-Day Action Plan," a list of proposals to improve safety throughout Metro-North in light of the Dec. 1 derailment that killed 4 people and injured dozens more.

The plan, which includes a proposal to give track workers a confidential code that they have to send dispatchers before trains can return to the rails, is intended to strengthen safety procedures, according to the MTA.

The plan has not been fully implemented, an MTA spokeswoman said.

It was not clear if any of the safety proposals could have prevented the Monday morning fatality.