Train crash victim was 'pure goodness,' widow says

Story highlights

  • Jim Lovell was one of four who died in the Bronx crash
  • His wife says she knew he was dead when he didn't respond to texts
  • Lovell "was so much more than just a victim," his son says
Sunday morning's trip to the train station was a little different for Nancy Montgomery as she dropped off her husband.
"The moon was different, leaving for the train at 10 minutes to six. The way we said good-bye was different," Montgomery said. There was an extra kiss as she dropped him off, "and there was such peace and quiet at the train station. He was the only one that got on in Cold Spring."
Her husband, Jim Lovell, boarded the Metro-North commuter train into New York and headed south, along the Hudson River, toward Manhattan. The audio contractor had planned to join a rehearsal for NBC's lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Wednesday.
Instead, he was one of four New York state residents killed when the train derailed at high speed in a curve in the Bronx. Along with Lovell, 58, the victims included Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose; and So Kisook Ahn, 35, of Queens.
Montgomery told CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 that when Lovell didn't respond to two text messages she sent after hearing of the crash, "I knew that he was one of the victims."
"I didn't want to believe it," she said. "And you know, I kind of slowly made my way to my car and made my way down to the scene, but it was pretty clear to me. In my heart, I knew."
On NBC's Today show, host Matt Lauer said Lovell was "part of just about every big concert we ever had on our plaza."
"Jim was a friendly and welcome presence around here he was also an enormously talented guy who always did his job with grace," Lauer said. "Even under extreme pressure, he was there working tirelessly with a smile on his face."
Montgomery called her husband -- who also leaves behind three sons and a daughter -- "pure goodness." And his eldest son, Finn, told CNN that Lovell "was not a victim."
"Jim Lovell was so much more than just a victim," Finn Lovell said. "He was a loving father, a great dad, best friend, uncle. Great co-worker, just always had had a smile on his face. I just want to say I'm so proud and blessed that i was able to call him my father."