First responders work the scene of a collision involving a Manhattan-bound commuter train and a vehicle in Westbury, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. The Long Island Railroad says service was suspended Tuesday evening in both directions on the Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson branches. (Howard Schnapp/Newsday via AP)

First responders work the scene of a collision involving a Manhattan-bound commuter train and a vehicle in Westbury, N.Y., Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. The Long Island Railroad says service was suspended Tuesday evening in both directions on the Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson branches. (Howard Schnapp/Newsday via AP)

3 people killed in train-vehicle collision on Long Island

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the vehicle was ‘trying to beat the gate’

Two commuter trains travelling in opposite directions collided with a vehicle on the tracks in Westbury, killing all three occupants in the vehicle before one of the trains derailed and tore into a concrete platform Tuesday night, according to officials.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the vehicle was “trying to beat the gate” when it was struck just before 7:30 p.m. He said one of the trains, which was carrying about 200 passengers and headed for Manhattan, was going at “full speed” when it crashed.

“The train then leaves the track and takes out the platform and the hits the north side of the platform and takes off about 30 yards of concrete, which goes through the train,” Ryder said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a “full investigation into the collision,” which also sent seven people on the trains to local hospitals with non-fatal injuries and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 passengers and crew on the two trains.

Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng said the vehicle went around the grade crossing and was struck by the train that was leaving Westbury station. He said the gates at the crossing were properly functioning.

“The gates were down, the lights were flashing. We’ve confirmed that they were functioning,” he said. “Witnesses have said the vehicle went around the gates, at which point the train that was leaving, heading eastbound, and the vehicle collided.

A westbound train travelling toward Westbury then struck the vehicle, he said. The vehicle was pushed and that’s when the front two cars of the westbound train came off the rails, Eng said.

Local TV news helicopter video showed the train cars standing upright after the wreck, but with the forward cars off the rails. One end of one the trains struck a station platform, crushing part of it.

Many emergency vehicles were on the scene, including some ambulances. The doors of the train were open and firefighters and other emergency workers could be seen entering and moving through the cars. Service was suspended in both directions on the Ronkonkoma and Huntington/Port Jefferson branches.

Passenger Kiara Jackson told Newsday she heard the sound of metal dragging along the concrete platform.

“I knew something was wrong. We were in a panic,” Jackson said. “There was a screech and then there was a thud. They told us to walk westerly and there were two small fires. Smoke was kind of coming in so they told us to just keep walking.”

Another passenger, April Frazier, 31, of Brooklyn, was heading to Manhattan’s Penn Station.

“I was sitting on the left side and all of a sudden the train really started rocking hard,” Frazier told Newsday. “Flames flared up on my side. I heard the conductor yell ‘Brake, brake!’ That’s when I saw the flames.”

Tuesday night’s crash was the fifth incident at the crossing in the last 40 years, and the second involving a train hitting a vehicle, according to federal safety data. In the others, a person walking or standing on the tracks was hit by a train.

READ MORE: B.C. train that derailed and killed three ‘just started moving on its own’

READ MORE: Woman gets $2 million after 2014 train crash

As part of the LIRR expansion and modernization project, the railroad’s “A Modern LI” website said it planned to eliminate the School Street grade crossing, saying it “poses a safety risk to drivers, pedestrians and LIRR customers,” and replace it with a “two-way grade separated underpass.”

After a spike in deaths at railroad crossings in 2017, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched a public awareness campaign with the slogan “Stop! Trains Can’t.” The Federal Railroad Administration developed a crossing-finder app and persuaded technology companies to add grade-crossing warnings to GPS devices and mapping applications.

In 2017, there were 2,115 grade-crossing crashes in the U.S., resulting in 271 deaths. That was the highest yearly grade-crossing death toll in a decade (2008 had 290).

Full-year data isn’t available for 2018.

The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

county
County of Stettler council meeting highlights for Jan. 13th

County council chambers will be getting some audio-visual upgrades

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Stettler town hall. (Lisa Joy/Stettler Independent)
Town of Stettler launches redesigned website

The new website increases user functionality and offers additional features

Larry Clarke
Stettler Reeve Larry Clarke discusses goals for 2021

Despite challenges, projects were completed through 2020

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

(Via the Canadian Press)
Alberta monolith comes with message to save eastern slopes of Rocky Mountains

‘They deserve our attention. They warrant our protection. They are under threat’

blessing
Bentley Blessing Pantry continues to faithfully serve the community

‘We just wanted to make everyone aware that we are still here to serve you throughout this coming year.’

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. A worker is missing after a dozer broke through ice on an inactive Suncor tailings pond in northern Alberta.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Worker missing after dozer breaks through frozen tailings pond in northern Alberta

The worker was an employee of Christina River Construction

File Photo
‘You took away some real joy,’ Sylvan Lake Winter Village turned off after vandalism

Sometime during the night of Jan, 12 the light display at the pier was vandalized and damaged

Most Read