All eight victims killed in Amtrak derailment now identified

Written by The Associated Press | May 14, 2015 2:33 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Brian Witte

From left, Naval Academy Rabbi Josh Sherwin, Midshipman Nick Abramson and Vice Adm. Walter "Ted" Carter, the academy's superintendent, remember Midshipman Justin Zemser, during a news conference today at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Abramson, a sprint football teammate of Zemser, recalled his friend as an inspiring presence on and off the field. Zemser, on a break from the U.S. Naval Academy was among those killed when an Amtrak passenger train derailed Tuesday in Philadelphia.

(Undated) -- The U.S. Naval Academy's superintendent says the midshipman who died in an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia was a talented and highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. 

Vice Admiral Walter "Ted'' Carter said in a statement today he and his wife Lynda are joining the Brigade of Midshipmen, staff and faculty in mourning the loss of Midshipman Justin Zemser. 

Zemser was a 20-year-old sophomore at the academy.

He was an English major and an academic honor student and a member of the Navy sprint football team, the Jewish Midshipman Club and the Semper Fi Society, which is a Marine Corps club. 

Zemser, of Rockaway Beach, New York, was one of eight people who were killed in the derailment Tuesday night.


Photo by AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Surrounded by friends and family, Susan Zemser, center, and Howard Zemser, the parents of U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Justin Zemser, prepare to speak to the media outside their home in New York yesterday.

Another victim has been idenfied as a former teacher in the Rochester public school system who received a master's degree in education from a college in the upstate city.  

WHEC-TV in Rochester reports Derrick Griffith taught at the city's Wilson Magnet High School in the late 1990s.

Officials at the University of Rochester tell WXXI Radio he received his masters in 1995 from the college's Warner School of Education in Teaching and Curriculum. 

Griffith was living in Brooklyn where he served as dean of student affairs and enrollment management at Medgar Evers College. 

In 2003, he founded the City University of New York Preparatory Transitional High School. Last month he received a doctorate of philosophy in urban education from the CUNY Graduate Center.

All eight victims have been identified by authorities or friends and family: Zemser; Griffith; Abid Gilani, a Wells Fargo senior vice president; Bob Gildersleeve, who worked at Ecolab in Maryland; 48-year-old Jim Gaines, a video software architect at The Associated Press; Laura Finamore, an employee at Cushman & Wakefield in New York; Giuseppe Piras of Italy; and Rachel Jacobs, the chief executive of Philadelphia-based ApprenNet.

Jacobs' family called her death "an unthinkable tragedy'' and said in a statement it "cannot imagine life without her.''

The 39-year-old mother of two had been traveling home to New York.

Sixteen victims of the Amtrak derailment remain at Temple University Hospital, and all are expected to recover. 

Dr. Herbert Cushing, Temple's chief medical officer, says eight of the patients remain in critical condition and more surgeries are planned.  

More than 200 were hurt.  

Cushing says the patients at the hospital are between 19 and 80 years old and have severe rib injuries.

He says some may remain hospitalized for several days. 

All of the patients at the hospital have been identified and their families have been notified.  

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