A 49-year-old Westchester mother of five says she feels fortunate to be recovering after the Metro-North train she was taking to work in Manhattan Sunday jumped the tracks and skidded through an embankment in the Bronx, stopping just short of the river.
Fidajete Brucaj was on her way to her job as a maid at a midtown hotel from her home in Yorktown when her regular commute was jolted.
"I remember being happy and heading off to work, and then after that, I don't know what's going on," Brucaj told NBC 4 New York from her hospital bed at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, where she was recovering.
Brucaj's daughter Quin added that all her mother remembered "is a couple of bangs, and I think at that point the passengers had been flying off their seats. She had been knocked unconscious right away."
Quin, her four siblings and her father were home Sunday when they turned on the television and saw their mother's mangled front-car train thrashed along the bank of the Hudson. Not everyone in Brucaj's car made it out alive, all the more reason her family is grateful, even as questions linger about whether human error played a role in the derailment.
"I feel bad for the conductor and his family," said Quin Brucaj.
The family is focused on the recovery of Fidajete Brucaj, who says she feels "very sick and very tired." X-rays have revealed she has a fracture in her spine, and her family says it will take a long time for her to regain her health.
Still, Quin says her mother is "lucky."
"All that matters is that she's here and there's nothing life-threatening. Eventually she'll be OK."
Brucaj, whose five children range in ages from 15 through 27, remains in serious but stable condition at Montefiore. It's not clear when she'll be released.