UPDATE (2/5): The Journal News has released the identities of all six of those killed in Tuesday night’s Metro-North collision.
The driver of the SUV involved in the collision was identified as Ellen Schaeffer Brody, 49, an Edgemont mother of three. The following five men were identified as the passengers who lost their lives in the collision and ensuing fire.
Eric Vandercar, 53, a Bedford father of two. Vandercar was a senior manger at Mesirow Financial.
Walter Liedtke, 69, a Bedford resident who is survived by his wife. Liedtke was a well-known art expert in the fields of Dutch and Flemish paintings.
Joseph Nadol, 42, a New Castle father of three, according to media reports.
Robert Dirks, 36, of Chappaqua.
Tomar Aditya, 41, of Danbury, Connecticut.
A Metro-North collision with an SUV left more than a dozen passengers injured and six dead on Tuesday night at the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla, NY. Officials report that this is Metro-North Railroad’s deadliest accident to date.
The train was headed northbound on the Harlem line around 6:30 p.m. when it collided with a black Mercedes-Benz SUV that was stuck on the tracks. The crash and subsequent explosion caused both the SUV and the front car of the train to catch fire. Some passengers stated they began to smell fumes and quickly evacuated the train by breaking the glass of the doors.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino stated, “It was a horrific scene. The inside of the car was melted and charred with the third rail going through it.” The collision of the train and SUV reportedly pushed it about 400 feet — or 10 train-car lengths — up the track.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched a team to investigate the crash site, lead by head investigator Michael Hiller. It has been reported that at least 400 feet of the track will need to be replaced. Governor Andrew Cuomo and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast are planning to use the event recorder on the train to make further connections about the crash.
According to a statement by Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan, “The gates came down on top of the vehicle, which was stopped on the tracks. The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, and she got back in and drove forward and was stuck.”
Rick Hope, who was in the car directly behind the SUV, said he put his car in reverse to give the SUV driver enough room to pull off the tracks. “It looks like where she stopped she did not want to go on the tracks, but the proximity of the gate to her car, you know, it was dark — maybe she didn’t know she was in front of the gate,” Hope told WNYW.
As of press time, the victims have not yet been identified.
More than 50 ambulances arrived at the scene to assist those who were injured. Cuomo described the crash as a “truly ugly and brutal sight.”
He added, “When you look at the damage done, and the damage by the fire, it’s actually amazing that not more people were hurt on that train,” recognizing the first responders that aided those affected.
Of the 650 passengers riding, about 400 were taken to a sports club, The Cliffs at Valhalla. It quickly became the evaluation site for the injured passengers as well as a transport area for riders to continue their travels.
Assemblyman David Buchwald of Westchester stated, “I send my deepest condolences to the loved ones of those six people who perished… Our first responders continue to be beacons of courage, and have done an outstanding job in securing the safety of the remaining passengers, extinguishing the blaze and ensuring calm in a time of uncertainty.”