A New York commuter train collided with an SUV that was ‘stalled’ on the tracks, killing 6 people on Tuesday and making this the deadliest rail accident in New York area since March 1982, when 9 teenagers in a van were killed when a train crashed into them at a crossing in Mineola.
The 6 people who died, previously believed to be 7, included the driver of the car and 5 people on board the train. 15 other people were injured, including 7 in very serious condition.
At about 6:30 p.m. ET, the Harlem Line train out of Grand Central Terminal struck the SUV at the narrow, two-lane Commerce Street crossing, causing a fiery explosion that engulfed both the SUV and the train.
Authorities said the SUV’s driver, identified as Ellen Brody, a 49-year-old jewelry-shop worker with 3 children, had gotten out of her vehicle momentarily to check the rear of her Mercedes sport utility vehicle, earlier mistaken as a Jeep Cherokee, after the crossing’s safety gates came down on her car. She then got back in and proceeded to drive forward when she was hit. The incident left little more than a shell of the car crumpled in front of a burnt-out rail car.
The car was pushed about 1,000 feet down the tracks. During that time, the electrified rail broke into large pieces and went through both the first and second train carriage of the New York commuter train that was carrying around 650 people. At the same time, the SUV and the front car of the 8-car train lit up in flames, apparently fueled by gasoline in the vehicle’s fuel tank, and the front train carriage was charred from the inside out.
While many passengers in the back cars were able to safely self-evacuate uninjured, many front car passengers were severely injured or died.
There has been more accidents in recent years with MTA that have caused major criticism of the company. A Metro-North train derailed near the northern edge of New York City in December 2013, killing four people and injuring 70. In May 2013, two Metro-North passenger trains collided in Connecticut, injuring more than 70.