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.

Just Posted

NDP Leader Rachel Notley stops in Red Deer on campaign trail

Notley promises hospital expansion, cath lab, pipelines and energy industry expansion

Lacombe’s CACHS Knights girls come up just short at Provincials

Cold shooting second half prevents Lacombe girls from medal round

Lacombe athletes compete at largest North American cheer event

25,000 athletes were in Dallas in late February

Blackfalds advises residents to watch for spring thaw conditions

Public Works crews are attending to those services affected

WATCH: ‘Napalm Girl’ discusses journey from hatred to forgiveness in Lacombe

Burman University’s Herr Lecture Series welcomed Kim Phuc Phan Thi to Lacombe

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

Carbon tax, oil and gas investment dominate Day 2 of Alberta campaign

NDP pledges more oil and gas processing, UCP slams provincial and federal governments on carbon tax

Another gun seized by police in Wetaskiwin

Maskwacis RCMP arrest two youths, seize firearm in Wetaskiwin

Sundre RCMP looking for 4 missing bison

A Sundre bison rancher is missing four bison from January and RCMP ask for help from the public

Targeted methane emission cut rules estimated to save billions, says CERI study

Federal government has proposed regulations for methane emission reductions from oil and gas sector

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Politicians hitting the road for votes in Alberta election campaign

NDP Leader Rachel Notley and United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney have officially launched campaigns

Most Read