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Indian-American student to sue New York City for subway train injuries

Friday, 8 August 2014 - 9:35pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: PTI

An Indian-American student in New York plans to sue New York City and its transportation authority for the injuries she suffered when a subway train she was travelling in derailed, saying the incident traumatised her.

Melanie Chandan, 19, a student of Hunter College was aboard a local train that derailed in Queens in May. She suffered injuries to her head, neck, knees and arms in the accident.

Chandan's lawyer, Rehan Nazrali, has filed a notice of claim against New York city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the first step in filing a lawsuit against the government agency, according to a report in DNAinfo New York. Chandan said ever since the accident, she has been too scared to take the subway and sufferes from panic attacks.

"I can't bring myself to ride the train," Chandan told DNAinfo. "I even get upset by [hearing] the rumblings of the train." Nazrali said Chandan's ordinary life was "turned upside down" and "it was totally unnerving — something that is so reliable becomes entirely dangerous."

About 1,000 passengers were on board the train when it derailed on an early May morning. Six of the train's eight cars were knocked off the tracks and 19 people were injured, including four who required treatment at a hospital.

Chandan was headed to college and was sitting with her headphones on and using a tablet when "everything started to shake and the lights flickered." "The train moved violently from side to side," she said.

"It felt like the car was lifted off the ground." Chandan said she was flung into another seat by the jolt. She recalled that there was very little light in her car and passengers were screaming.

"A few people were having panic attacks and we were able to calm them down," she said adding that they were stranded underground for three hours. Since the derailment, Chandan said she has not taken the subway.

"I haven't been in the city since the end of May," she said, noting that she now sees a therapist. Nazrali said Chandan ended up withdrawing from two college classes because of her panic attacks.

"She hears noises, sounds and flashes — all those things that go with being a victim of a bomb scene," Nazrali said.

"Her mother will tell you, 'she's not the daughter that I knew.'" The report said the derailment is under investigation and no cause has been determined yet.

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