By the time the firefighters reached the scene, they said later, the first car was almost fully engulfed and thus there was little they could do to help evacuate it; most of the passengers had already managed to do so on their own by either going out the front door or removing the windows, primarily with tools provided but in some instances forcibly. During his interview with investigators, Metro-North's power director told them he believed the third rails were designed to break up in accidents and fail to the side, away from the train,[13]:51–53 since they had done so during the 1984 single-fatality accident at that same crossing. [10], The part of the parkway in Valhalla remained closed. However, there were other exceptions to this pattern, such as the 2005 Glendale train crash in southern California, at that time the deadliest in the history of Metrolink, where an SUV abandoned at a grade crossing by a driver who decided not to commit suicide after all derailed the train that struck it, killing 11. Event recorder data indicates the train slowed from 58 mph to 49 mph in 4 seconds. The lead railcar was carrying an estimated 20 passengers at the time of the accident and there were five confirmed passenger fatalities, all from the first railcar and 13 passengers reported to have injuries. Eleven sections of rail were found inside the first railcar and the entire railcar interior was consumed by fire. In Chappaqua, where the train was to make its first stop, the effect was pronounced, as three of the victims had connections to the hamlet. "Disappeared. "However, speculation does not serve those affected by this accident or further the investigation. [13]:73–75, "I suspect some may have had the expectation that the NTSB would be able to explain with certainty why the driver of the SUV ended up on the tracks that fateful evening," Sumwalt began. [13]:37–38, Passengers further back in the train heard explosions. The investigators consulted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found neither recalls nor complaints related to the shifter positioning or operation. VALHALLA — National Transportation Safety Board investigators spent Wednesday poring over the train-SUV crash scene where six people died and 15 were injured Tuesday. Were the federal standards the markings and signs conformed to strong enough? A study by the town engineer had estimated that the town could be assessed damages of up to $120 million for the accident despite being able to do little to prevent it, an amount that would have an extreme adverse effect on the town's finances. "The third rail entering the lead railcar caused significant damage and increased the number and severity of injuries and fatalities. They were also run on Facebook and the websites for many newspapers in the New York metropolitan area. NYSDOT also directed its regions to ensure that every other such signal in the state was in compliance with the MUTCD requirement. [13] Alan, who had once worked as a conductor in his native South Africa,[16] did not believe she was familiar with the area through which she was driving,[13]:15–17 or that she was familiar with grade crossings. To request removal of your name from an arrest report, submit these required items to arrestreports@patch.com. [13]:54–55 Nevertheless, in May 2015, the state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) adjusted the preemptions at the scene to give proper precedence to the crossing circuit when activated and extended the green signal for traffic on Commerce from the existing 2–10-second range, to 29 seconds, followed by four seconds of yellow, to allow even long vehicles like tractor trailers to clear the crossing. Her cell phone records showed no sign that she was awake between midnight and 9 a.m. when she usually slept, and her coworkers said she had exhibited no exhaustion at her job. [63], In 2018 it was disclosed that Smalls had reached a confidential settlement of a legal claim he had made against the MTA; his attorney said the engineer had never returned to work, was no longer employed by Metro-North, and had post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crash. [e] Hope says Brody's SUV was in front of the gate as it descended, but not on the tracks. The Westchester Metro-North Train crash today erupted late this evening. The train was occupied by 2 crew members and approximately 650 passengers at the time of the accident. Senator Chuck Schumer said. The NTSB believed that this had prevented additional deaths and injuries among them. On February 3, 2015, at about 6:26 pm eastern standard time, in Valhalla, New York, northbound Metro-North (MN) passenger train 659 consisting of eight electrically powered M-7 railcars, struck a 2011 Mercedes Benz ML350 sports utility vehicle (SUV) at the Commerce Street grade crossing on the Harlem line, resulting in a fire to the SUV and lead railcar (MN 4333). The lawsuit pointed to data from the train's event recorder showing that he had continued blowing the horn for five seconds until he began braking, 260 feet (79 m) from the intersection when the train was traveling at 59 miles per hour (95 km/h). While none of the third rail components showed any sign of electrical arcing, there was some localized burn damage on some segments. The NTSB did not explain why it was taking so long but said it expected the final report to come out in spring 2017. "The NTSB concludes the SUV driver, for undetermined reasons, did not comply with the advance warning system at the Commerce Street grade crossing; stopped past the stop line within the boundary of the grade crossing; and moved on to the tracks. The weather at the time of the accident was reported 20˚F and with very light wind, clear skies, and good visibility. A Metro-North train that had departed from the busy Grand Central Station in Manhattan at 5:45 in the evening on Tuesday rammed into a car on the tracks in Valhalla, a suburb of New York City. One local shopkeeper, a 30-year resident, told The New York Times that she would never ride the front car of any train, ever. The 3rd rail detached, pierced the SUV, entering the first railcar in two locations from the underside at the aft end of the left side passenger doorway. [22][27], The Valhalla volunteer fire department and ambulance corps responded; injured passengers were taken to nearby Westchester Medical Center (WMC). It was an express train of eight cars,[7] formed by four Bombardier M7A electric multiple units, bound for the Southeast station in Putnam County,[b] with Chappaqua its first scheduled stop. Brody died when her vehicle was struck by the train; as her vehicle was pushed along the tracks it loosened more than 450 feet (140 m) of third rail, which broke into sections and went through the exterior of the first car, killing five passengers and starting a fire. Had she done so, it might have provided additional warning that a grade crossing was nearby. Most were from passengers injured or killed, including the Brody family, all alleging negligence. It would compensate for the loss of westbound traffic at the intersection by changing the timing of the traffic signals on the Taconic, adding a left turn lane at the Lakeview intersection, and restricting truck traffic to local deliveries. [61] The widow of victim Robert Dirks filed a negligence lawsuit naming the town, county and Metro North, as well as Smalls the engineer as defendants, claiming Smalls could have stopped the train earlier. The MTA police worked with local law enforcement to create a Right of Way Task Force. At about 5:30 p.m. on February 3, 2015, 14 minutes after sunset,[4] a vehicle traveling south along the Taconic State Parkway north of the hamlet of Valhalla in the town of Mount Pleasant, in central Westchester County north of New York City, struck another vehicle making a turn onto Lakeview Avenue from the northbound parkway. Flames were within a foot (30 cm) of his face; another passenger got the emergency exit open and pulled him out. [32] There were a total of six deaths and fifteen injuries. [54], In July 2017, the NTSB released its final report, which found the probable cause of the accident to be "the driver of the sport-utility vehicle, for undetermined reasons, moving the vehicle on to the tracks". [29] Uninjured passengers, who had either escaped or had been evacuated, were taken to a nearby climbing gym called The Cliffs, where they were able to stay warm until buses arrived. Sumwalt reiterated the report's call for the makers of GPS navigation hardware and software to incorporate the FRA's database of grade crossings into their products so that drivers using them had additional awareness that they were crossing active tracks when they did so. First responders work at the scene of a train accident on Feb. 3, 2015, in Valhalla, New York. [5] After a crash at the Commerce Street crossing in 1984 that had killed the driver of the van involved,[11] boom barriers had been installed. "[49] George Bibel, author of Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters, agreed that this is uncommon. The maximum allowable speed on this section of track is 60 mph. He offered his own explanation: that she "simply did not realize she was on or near railroad tracks" despite the signs and pavement markings. Informational posters, reminding passengers to "Wait Behind the Gate" when they drive through grade crossings, went up in trains and at stations on the Metro-North, the LIRR, and the New York City Subway. "It is human nature to put oneself in the place of another, trying to interpret or judge whether actions are reasonable given all the circumstances," he wrote. Shortly afterwards she apparently reached the site of the road accident at the Lakeview intersection and took the detour for reasons unknown. A final one went up into the roof and punctured the second car at that point as well. "How safe is that crossing—for this to happen again?" 1 of 4 Crews examine the scene of the train crash in Valhalla, N.Y. Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015. The crossing gates descended, warning lights began flashing and, according to Hope, bells began ringing. [13]:53–54 In fact none of the five deaths on the train were a result of the fire; no soot was found in those passengers' airways. [13]:36, The third rail sections lifted up and punctured the floor of the first car, with the first short segment remaining on the floor while later ones, with one exception that came through a different hole, accumulated atop the seats in the center of the compartment. Filmed versions ran before movies. They next focused on whether she was familiar with the road and whether she was using a phone at the time;[21] later her cellphone records showed the call to her husband that had ended six minutes before the accident, during which, he said, she had told him that she was unsure of where she was. [13]:43–44, Smalls went back into the burning train several times to rescue passengers. At the very rear, passengers said they felt only a small jolt. "Do those two add up to the explanation for this terrible, terrible tragedy? [13]:71–72 A week after the report was released, a third member, Earl Weener, filed a dissenting statement. As reported by CBS New York, the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) is set to release the results of its investigation of a deadly train accident that took place two years ago in Valhalla, New York. On the evening of February 3, 2015, a commuter train on Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line struck a passenger car at a grade crossing near Valhalla, New York, United States, between the Valhalla and Mount Pleasant stations, killing six people and injuring 15 others, seven very seriously. [5], Almost 15 minutes later, at 5:44 p.m., Train 659 of Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line, which provides commuter rail service along an 82-mile (132 km) route from New York City to Wassaic in northeastern Dutchess County,[6] departed Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, 26 miles (42 km) south of Valhalla. Valhalla train crash; NTSB investigators survey the vehicles involved in the accident. Reports, Details of Fatal Valhalla Train Crash Released by NTSB - White Plains, NY - The 1,100-document docket is available for viewing online. [51][g], While the crossing had undergone upgrades in recent years, including brighter lights and an additional sign warning passing drivers not to stop on the tracks, in 2009 another upgrade, which would have added a sign with flashing lights 100–200 feet (30–61 m) up the road west of the tracks was not installed. "She wasn't in a hurry at all, but she had to have known that a train was coming." [13]:58–61, Enforcement efforts supplemented the education and public outreach. [13]:15–17, At the grade crossing, Train 659 was approaching on the western track. Metro-North service resumed the next morning, with delays of 15 minutes for trains to slow down at the accident site. VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials said six people were killed Tuesday evening, when a Metro-North train struck a car and caught fire during the evening rush in Valhalla. The driver of the SUV exited to look at the back of the SUV, then got back in the SUV, drove forward (east) and was struck by the train. Officials in the town of, June 2009 Washington Metro train collision, New York State Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, another grade crossing accident in California, List of traffic collisions (2000–present), Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, "Investigation Underway in Metro-North Train Crash", "Grade crossing safety: The "Waze" of the future", "Brandon Bostian Agrees to Talk About Amtrak Derailment but May Recall Little", "Metro-North engineer is shocked he survived train-SUV crash that killed 6", "How the Most Fatal Train Crash in Metro-North History Unfolded", "Harlem Line timetable effective November 9, 2014", "Union: Engineer battled flames, smoke to save riders", "Valhalla train crossing was site of 1984 fatal crash", "Rail Crossing Accidents Decline Nationwide, but Less So in New York Region", "Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision, Commerce Street, Valhalla, New York; February 3, 2015", "Six killed as New York train hits vehicle", "One year later, Ellen Brody is the legal focus of Valhalla train crash", "Friends and Colleagues Remember Lives Lost in the Metro-North Crash", "Train-crash victim's husband wants changes at crossings", "Witness: 'Terrible crunching sound' and the car was gone", "Metro-North Commerce Street crossing inspection report", "SUV Inside Train Gates for About 30 Seconds Before NY Crash", "On 4th anniversary of Valhalla Metro-North crash, third rail is focus of litigation", "NTSB Braces For Long Investigation Into Metro-North Crash", "Did Electrified Third Rail Make Metro-North Train Wreck Deadlier? [13]:46–50, The investigators also considered whether Brody had been able to hear or see the train coming. Parkways such as the Taconic, and winding roads like Commerce, once represented the county's rural charm, the possibility of living in the country yet close to the city, but while they were still charming they were now, with the area so heavily developed, "treacherous" with traffic. "[13]:46–50, Beyond Brody, the NTSB found some issues with the infrastructure. Seven people were killed when a Metro-North commuter train struck a stalled SUV on the tracks with the gates down in the Westchester County community of Valhalla, Gov. "It felt not even like a short stop, and then the train just completely stopped," said Neil Rader, who was sitting in the middle-back of the train. [8][9] At the controls was Stephen Smalls, a 32-year-old resident of Orange County, a three-year Metro-North employee. [13]:31–32, Brody then returned to her vehicle and, according to Hope, paused briefly. [14] Damage was estimated at $3.7 million. Very possibly." Officers primarily handed out pamphlets to drivers, pedestrians and train passengers at the many grade crossings in the metropolitan area, but also went as far as issuing summonses to violators, even arresting five, by November 2016. Gwyneth MacKenzie Murphy, the interim pastor at Nadol's Church of St. Mary the Virgin. [23], Deadliest accident in history of New York's Metro-North Railroad, NTSB investigators survey the vehicles involved in the accident, Other transportation accidents with similar elements, A little more than three months later it was overtaken by the, The line, from Grand Central Terminal to Southeast station, is, In 2016, the spouse agreed in a newspaper interview that she would have had to have driven over the Lakeview Avenue grade crossing to make the turn up Commerce Street and the accident site.". One detour available to northbound traffic involved using Lakeview Avenue and turning at the large Kensico Cemetery, a short distance to the west. The Brodys' attorney alleged that money allocated for a 2009 improvement that would have brought the crossing to federal standards was never spent. Video by John Meore/The Journal News [22] Nine surviving passengers were taken to WMC, with one in very serious condition. [34][35] On the afternoon of February 4, the day after the incident, the NTSB gave permission for Metro-North crews to clear the site. "This focus likely consumed her attention; hindering her ability to detect, perceive, and respond to audible and visual cues that the train was approaching," its report said. [13]:51–53, Those simulations showed that the rail's splice bars would have required high deformation levels before breaking when bent in an upwards direction. Attorneys for the surviving passengers and the families of the dead accused the MTA of "buy[ing] his silence". The CCTV installations, part of a wider project by the MTA to improve safety at railroad crossings, would help the MTA "investigate specific incidents and analyze crossing/traffic operations for targeted modifications to improve safety. The crash is the deadliest in Metro-North's history,[1] and at the time the deadliest rail accident in the United States since the June 2009 Washington Metro train collision, which killed nine passengers and injured 80.[2][a]. "[46], "[T]he exposure goes well beyond simply knowing people on the train," said a psychiatrist at a nearby hospital. Attorneys think so", "Rethinking grade crossing warning devices", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Valhalla_train_crash&oldid=999823210, Railroad crossing accidents in the United States, Accidents and incidents involving Metro-North Railroad, Railway accidents and incidents in New York (state), February 2015 events in the United States, Articles containing potentially dated statements from August 2019, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Wikipedia indefinitely move-protected pages, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Eric Vandercar, 53, of Bedford Hills, senior managing director of international sales and trading at the New York office of, This page was last edited on 12 January 2021, at 03:50. Or killed, including the Brody family, all alleging negligence area residents suggested the crossing that a crossing! 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