Last month, a Metro-North train collided with an SUV, bursting into flames, and killing six people.
This crash took place on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at around 6:30 pm, in White Plains, New York. The SUV crashed at the Commerce St. grade, while crossing in Hawthorne. When it happened, there were at least 750 people on board of the train, and luckily only twelve of them were hurt and taken to a nearby hospital. Other cell-shocked passengers were driven to the Cliffs, a rock-climbing gym, where they would be picked up by their relatives. However, buses also drove hundreds of people to Pleasantville, New York.
The car, which was a black Jeep Cherokee, was accidentally hit by the front of the train. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the car stopped on the railroad tracks while the gates were coming down. The driver, Ellen Brody, decided to leave her vehicle in order to look at her SUV’s damaged rear, but when she returned and drove forward, the train crashed into her.
The impact caused a third rail to crack and explode as it tore through the train’s first of eight cars and into the front of the second. One of the train’s passengers, Tom Iacobellis, found that this rail had ripped through the ceiling right above his seat in the second car.
Iacobellis, who is 54 years old, had almost sat in the first car, but then saw an empty seat in the second car; he changed his mind and sat there instead. “That’s the weirdest part of this whole thing: There was a seat available, otherwise I would have been in the first car,” he, a resident of Carmel, admitted.
The conductor tried to slow down his train by hitting the breaks, but unfortunately he was 300 feet away from the vehicle. His train was already traveling at about 58 miles per hour, and he was only able to slow it down to 49 miles per hour before the impact took place.
When this crash, now labelled as the deadliest in Metro-North’s history, occurred, passengers were unaware of the situation and quickly panicked, not doing anything but standing in each other’s view. They saw injured people and looked outside, discovering that the train’s first car was in fact engulfed in flames. Later, several people jumped down from the burning train car, landing in a cemetery.
After some time had passed, an announcement was made, stating that the train hit a vehicle on the tracks. Iacobellis also noted that the Metro-North should do more to inform passengers during an emergency.
The railroad, though, tweeted that the Harlem Line Service was temporarily suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville. The small train had almost its entire lead car eaten by the heat, while the same was done to parts of its second car. It left New York’s Grand Central Station at 5:44 p.m., with the accident happening only 45 minutes later.
Iacobellis quoted, “I always liked taking the train. Ever since that happened, it’s not as warm and cozy. It’s a little bit more of a machine now.”