At the peak of the evening rush on Tuesday, Feb. 3, a Metro-North Railroad train passing through Westchester County struck an SUV that was stalled on the railroad tracks near White Plains causing crash and explosion that caused a number of injuries and deaths.
At least six people were killed as a result of the incident and a dozen others were injured. Hundreds of people were likewise needed to be evacuated from what officials dub as the deadliest accident in railroad history.
In a news conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that five passengers of the crowded train died. The driver of the SUV, a black Jeep Cherokee, that got stuck on the tracks and hit by the train around 6:30 p.m. likewise died.
"This is a truly ugly and brutal sight," Cuomo said. "The third rail of the track came up from the explosion and went right through the (rail) car, it's a devastatingly ugly situation."
Westchester County executive Rob Astorino said that ten individuals had serious injury while two had injuries that were not life threatening. The train's locomotive engineer was among those who were injured.
Cuomo said that considering the damage done, it is amazing that not more people got hurt. The injured were sent to local hospitals for treatment.
The passengers were stranded temporarily after they evacuated the train, whose front car continued to release smoke. Although damage to the other seven cars of the train was minimal, the third rail carrying 750 volts of direct current tore through the front car, burning it and sending billowing smoke into the air.
Firefighters have already responded to the smoking car while officials are investigating what caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board was sending a team to conduct an investigation of the crash.
Preliminary information has revealed that the gates at the crossing came down on top of the ill-fated vehicle, which had stopped on the tracks. The driver then got out of the car to push it off the tracks then got back in to the vehicle before it was hit by the train. The impact pushed the SUV over 120 meters.
Metro-North is the second busiest railroad in the country serving 280,000 commuters daily. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said that parts of the train line will be closed on Wednesday morning. The incident is the latest in a series of accident involving Metro-North trains in the past couple of years.