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Here Are The Eight Victims Killed In The Amtrak Derailment

Eight people have been confirmed dead as a result of the derailment near Philadelphia. These are some of their stories.

Last updated on May 14, 2015, at 6:36 p.m. ET

Posted on May 13, 2015, at 3:53 p.m. ET

Eight people were killed Tuesday when an Amtrak train traveling between Washington, D.C., and New York City derailed in Philadelphia.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Here's what we know about those who lost their lives in the crash.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Midshipman Justin Zemser, 20


U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Justin Zemser was traveling home to Rockaway Beach in New York on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 when the crash occurred.

The Naval Academy said it was "deeply saddened" to report the news, but did not release Zemser's name. His mother, Susan Zemser, confirmed to ABC News that her only son had been killed in the derailment.


Zemser was in his second year at the Naval Academy after having graduated in 2013 from Beach Channel High School, where he served as student government president, according to

The Jewish student had recently traveled to Israel with Naval Academy classmates for a spring break holiday.

Zemser was also a talented football player, and was profiled by ESPN as a possible college recruit. The wide-receiver captained his high school team in 2011 and 2012. He was also a first-year member of the Navy's Sprint Football team where he played under jersey No. 83.

“My wife, Lynda, and I join the Brigade, staff and faculty in mourning the loss of Midshipman Justin Zemser,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter Carter said in a statement on Thursday. “Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Zemser family, and our extended USNA family, during this very difficult time.”

The statement continued:

Zemser was a member of the 17th Company, an English major and an academic honor student at the Academy. He was a member of the Navy Sprint Football Team, the Jewish Midshipman Club, and the Semper Fi Society (a Marine Corps club).


Jim Gaines, 48

Santos Chaparro / AP

Associated Press employee James "Jim" Gaines was returning home to Plainsboro, New Jersey, when the Amtrak train crashed, the news agency announced Monday.

The video software engineer originally from Princeton, New Jersey, and father of two had been in Washington, D.C., for meetings.

Temple University Hospital physician Herbert Cushing said Gaines died in the hospital.

Gaines had worked for the AP since 1998 and was described by the company as "a key factor in nearly all of the news agency's video initiatives, including a service providing live video to hundreds of clients worldwide."

He was awarded the AP's "Geek of the Month" prize in May 2012 for his "tireless dedication and contagious passion" to technological innovation, according to the news agency, and was a member of a team that won the AP Chairman's Prize in 2006 for developing its online video network.

Gaines is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, and two children, 16-year-old Oliver and 11-year-old Anushka.

Abid Gilani

Abid Gilani, an executive with Wells Fargo, was among the Amtrak victims, a bank spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

"It is with great sadness that Wells Fargo confirms that Abid Gilani, a valued member of our Commercial Real Estate division, has passed away," communications manager Elise Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said Gilani had been with the bank for two years.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Gilani was based in New York City and had previously worked for the Marriott International hotel group.

His profile states that he studied at Canada's University of Saskatchewan and Laurentian University.

YouTube / Via

Rachel Jacobs, 39

Rachel Jacobs, the CEO of Philadelphia-based online learning company ApprenNet, was killed in the derailment, her family confirmed.

Jacobs, 39, joined the company in March of this year but was still commuting between Philadelphia and her home in Manhattan, according to an April interview she did with Technically Philly.

She was married and the mother of a two-year-old son.

"This is an unthinkable tragedy. Rachel was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend," the Jacobs family said in a statement. "She was devoted to her family, her community and the pursuit of social justice. We cannot imagine life without her. We respectfully ask for privacy so that we can begin the process of grieving."


She had previously served as vice president of strategy and business development for Ascend Learning, according to ApprenNet.

Thank you for your thoughts & prayers for our CEO, Rachel Jacobs. We are still looking for Rachel & hope she will be with her family soon.

She also founded Detroit Nation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping startup companies in her hometown.

Derrick Griffith, 42

City University of New York's Medgar Evers College confirmed to BuzzFeed News that Derrick Griffith was killed in the crash.

“Derrick was one of the most important people to not just the college as a whole but to student life,” college president Rudolph Crew told The Wall Street Journal. “He supported and advocated for students in times of crisis.”

Griffith completed a doctorate just one month ago in Urban Planning at CUNY while serving as dean of student affairs and enrollment.

During his career, Griffith also worked as a social studies teacher, a professional development manager, and adjunct professor, according to the statement from Medgar Evers College.

Bob Gildersleeve, 45

Bob Gildersleeve, vice president of corporate accounts in North America for institutional business at Ecolab, was confirmed dead in a statement released by the company Thursday.

The Baltimore-based executive and father of two was traveling to New York City for meetings when the Amtrak train derailed, his sister told reporters.

In the statement Thursday, Ecolab said it had been notified of Gildersleeve's death and that the company was "deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague."

"Bob was an exceptional leader and was instrumental to our success," the company said. "We will greatly miss him, and our thoughts go out to his beloved family members and friends."

Ecolab spokesperson Roman Blahoski told BuzzFeed News that Gildersleeve, 45, had been with the food services hygiene company for 22 years.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Gildersleeve previously studied at Florida International University, where he received a bachelor's degree in hospitality management, as well as the Culinary Institute of America in New York.

Giuseppe Piras

An Italian national, Piras is believed to have been in the U.S. for work, the Associated Press reported.

According to the Italian paper L'Union Sarda, he worked in the olive oil and wine industry, selling products across the world.

Piras was identified after relatives contacted the Italian Consulate in Philadelphia after growing concerned about him.

Piras was described as an avid cycler and entrepreneur. He was married but had no children, L'Union Sarda reported.

Laura Finamore, 47

An executive at a New York real estate firm, Finamore was reportedly on her way home from a memorial service when she boarded Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188.

Finamore worked as a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm, according the company's website and her LinkedIn profile.

Her family released a statement Thursday, describing her as a generous, bright person.

"Laura's smile could light up a room and her infectious laughter will be remembered by many for years to come," the family said in the statement, as reported by multiple news outlets. "She was always there when you needed her — with a hug, encouraging words, or a pat on the back."

According to her LinkedIn profile, Finamore graduated from George Washington University in 1990 with a degree in literature and language.

She had seven nieces and nephews, according to the New York Post.

This is a developing story and more information will be added as it becomes available.

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