Sept. 11 Survivor Lives to Tell about Deadly Hoboken Train Crash

By Layton, Mary Jo | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), October 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Sept. 11 Survivor Lives to Tell about Deadly Hoboken Train Crash


Layton, Mary Jo, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


When Tahir Qureshi phoned home from a North Jersey hospital to say he sustained only a minor injury in the train wreck that left one person dead and scores injured Thursday, his family needed to see him to believe it.

After all, the 42-year-old father of three had walked out of the first tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 without a scratch, an act of divine intervention, plain luck or some universal force that by most people's reckoning happens just once in this lifetime.

So the extended family of the quiet comptroller filled the small house in New Milford on Thursday night -- the parents who live a few blocks away, the brother-in-law from Long Island, the older brother, Zahir, the "bossy one," from Paramus, and several nieces and nephews -- all to lay hands on the man who cheated disaster again.

Tahir Qureshi's wife hadn't believed him at first when he called from Jersey City Medical Center with a stranger's phone to say -- very calmly -- that he had been in a derailment. And that, really, he was fine.

"When he said train crash, oh, my God, that is no small thing," said Fatima Qureshi, who immediately switched the Disney Channel that the couple's toddler was watching to see live news of the wreck in Hoboken.

"He said he was fine, but I thought, he's just telling me he's OK,'' she recalled Friday afternoon in the couple's home, where her husband nursed a bruised knee. Only when he arrived home, driven by another brother, Shahid, was she reassured.

Hours later, the parade of family and the deluge of calls began. His mother was "a little hysterical," Tahir Qureshi said. His father- in-law, on the phone from Maryland, was sobbing.

And the minute brother Zahir arrived, he "chastised me for sitting in the first car," Qureshi joked -- in his view, the most dangerous place in a train.

The pizza arrived, while the calls kept coming -- from Denver and Denmark, Pakistan and Pennsylvania -- all panicked relatives who heard the news but worried that Qureshi's luck had run out.

"Everybody had an image of him during 9/11," Fatima Qureshi said. …

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