Amtrak Dead Were Returning Home to Family

CEO of ApprenNet Rachel Jacobs, AP reporter Jim Gaines among victims
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2015 5:50 PM CDT
Updated May 14, 2015 12:33 AM CDT
Midshipman, Reporter Among Amtrak Dead; CEO Still Missing
Rachel Jacobs, CEO of ApprenNet.   (YouTube)

Many of those aboard Amtrak's Northeast Regional Train No. 188 were headed to reunite with loved ones upon arrival in New York. Instead, Rachel Jacobs, the 39-year-old CEO of education start-up ApprenNet who dreamed of changing the world, never greeted her husband and 2-year-old after boarding the train following a meeting. A Naval Academy midshipman, 20-year-old Justin Zemser of Queens was on leave and also heading home when the train derailed. "When I went online to see if everything was on time, it said there was a derailment," his mother tells the New York Times. Zemser, a community volunteer and high school valedictorian, dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL. A friend says he would have met his goal. "He had the determination and work ethic."

The AP lost 49-year-old employee Jim Gaines—known as a tireless advocate for the company's video initiatives—who had a wife, 11-year-old daughter, and 16-year-old son waiting for him in Plainsboro, NJ, where he was returning from meetings in Washington, DC. "Jim was more precious to us than we can adequately express," his family says in a statement. Canadian Abid Gilani, 55, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank's hospitality finance group, also died in the accident, the Toronto Star reports, along with Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs at Brooklyn's Medgar Evers College. The college president describes him as "a scholar, a gentleman," per USA Today. Baltimore's Bob Gildersleeve, 45, remains missing. "My mom and his brother have gone to many hospitals looking for him," says his 13-year-old son. "We've got no information so far." (Read more Amtrak stories.)

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