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Seven people were killed Tuesday after a commuter train collided with a car north of New York City. The northbound Metro North Railroad train, packed with 655 commuters, struck a Jeep Cherokee at a railroad crossing about 32 kilometers north of New York City.
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Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board said the main question was why the SUV was stopped at the crossing in Valhalla, an affluent town north of New York City. In addition, they want to know whether a nearby traffic detour played a role in the collision on a Metro-North line during the Tuesday evening rush hour, which killed the vehicle driver and five passengers in the first train carriage. Data from a recorder on the train may give a fuller picture of the timing of the traffic gates and signals at the crossing, and whether the train altered its speed and blew a whistle. The NTSB, which said the data would be released on Thursday, has called a news conference for 5 p.m. The train track's electrified "third" rail broke into long pieces, penetrating the first train carriage as a raging fire erupted, and entering the second carriage near its ceiling. Among the killed passengers were Eric Vandercar, who worked at Mesirow Financial, and Walter Liedtke, a curator of European paintings for New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The crash appeared to be the deadliest rail accident in the New York area since March 1982, when nine teenagers in a van were killed when a train crashed into them at a crossing in Mineola. About 250 people a year are killed in vehicle-train collisions at crossings in the United States, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The Metro-North train's locomotive and carriages derailed as the train went into a bend in the railway line near Spuyten Duyvil station.
At least one eyewitness said the train - the 05:54 from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central Station - was travelling much faster than normal at the time. None of the carriages went into the adjacent Hudson or Harlem rivers - although pictures from the scene suggest this nearly happened. The train appeared to be going "a lot faster'' than normal as it approached the curve coming into the station, passenger Frank Tatulli told WABC-TV. Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the curve where the derailment occurred was in a slow speed area, and that the train's black box recorder should be able to tell how fast the train was travelling.
Speaking to the media near the scene, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed the casualty figures, adding that the authorities believed everyone at the site has been accounted for and that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was en route to the area to begin an investigation. A union official has spoken out -- and out of turn -- saying reassuring things about the engineer who seems to have nodded off, which caused the crash. He's overweight and probably stops breathing during his sleep -- that would cause him to be sleep deprived and contribute to daytime sleepiness. The other contributor was that his shift had changed from night to day two weeks prior, but that was not supposed to have any ill effect on his ability to perform his job safely. The National Transportation Safety Board says brake failure and alcohol were not factors in the commuter train derailment that killed four people Sunday. At the same time, investigators said they have so far found no issues with the signal system or brakes on the train, which was traveling 82 mph before it careened off the tracks in a 30-mph zone, said Earl Weener, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. Weener said the crew, including the engineer, have passed alcohol tests and officials are still awaiting the results of drug testing.
Rockefeller, a 15-year veteran of the MTA who has been an engineer for 10 years, was scheduled to work a typical nine-hour shift Sunday, the day of the crash, Weener said. Bottalico said the union provided Rockefeller with an attorney during the interview, as well as a union official. A law enforcement source said that, at this point, investigators do not believe the engineer was using his cellphone, but they are checking records to confirm that.
Bronx prosecutors, along with the NYPD and MTA police, are also conducting a separate probe into the crash and will have to determine whether the engineer's conduct amounts to criminal negligence, the source said. Meanwhile, the governor's office announced Tuesday that service on the Hudson Line would be restored to 98 percent of its normal capacity for Wednesday's morning commute. Commuters should expect delays of about 15 minutes as trains run on a single track in a 1-mile vicinity near the crash site as crews work to restore 800 feet of two of the three tracks. As investigators zero in on Rockefeller's actions, they're looking closely at several angles, the law enforcement source said.

The law enforcement source said Rockefeller's statements would be compared with information from the train's data recorders. Without hurting service, workers will try to take a fresh look at improving safety, an MTA source said. Five of the dead were train passengers, and the sixth fatality was a female driver of a Jeep, the official said. The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, then she got back in and drove forward and was struck, the official said. About 400 commuters were taken to a rock-climbing gym for shelter, the train company official said. A Metro-North Railroad passenger train smolders after hitting a vehicle in Valhalla, New York State, Tuesday, February 3, 2015. VALHALLA, New York, United States — Officials say six people were killed and at least 12 others were injured when a commuter train struck a vehicle on the tracks north of New York City. Metro-North Railroad spokesman Aaron Donovan said the northbound train struck a Jeep Cherokee at a railroad crossing in Valhalla on Tuesday evening. Donovan says the fatalities consisted of the vehicle’s female driver and five people aboard the train. The rail passengers were moved to the rear of the train, which had left Grand Central Terminal about 45 minutes earlier. Metro-North is the nation’s second-busiest railroad, after the Long Island Rail Road. A train hurtled off the tracks in a New York suburb Sunday, killing at least four people, injuring 67 and coming perilously close to plunging into a freezing river.
It was still unclear why the train veered off the rails in the Bronx at around 7:20 am (1220 GMT) as it headed south to Grand Central Station in Manhattan, sparking a major rescue operation. New York Fire Department said four people died, while 11 others were seriously hurt and another 56 suffered minor wounds. Many survivors had broken limbs or injuries to their heads or necks, with some being led away with bloodied faces, applying ice packs to try and ease the pain. Speaking alongside Weener, Cuomo said a crane was on its way to the scene to right the derailed train cars. Weener said this would ensure there were no further fatalities and stop fuel from leaking from the locomotive. The train crew and conductor would be interviewed in the coming days, Weener said, adding that he expected investigators to be at the scene for up to 10 days. At least one passenger said the train was going faster than normal as it moved along a curve on a downward slope leading into Spuyten Duyvil station, just north of Manhattan.
Before reaching the station, the derailed cars flew across a grassy bank separating the rail line from the Hudson and Harlem rivers, which meet at that point. All seven of the train's cars came off the tracks and the front came to rest only a few feet from the water.
Divers searched the rivers in case passengers were hurled into the frigid water by the force of the derailment.
Philip Banks, a top New York police official, told reporters more than 100 people were believed to have been on the train, which had left the town of Poughkeepsie at 6:00 am (1100 GMT). Train services in the region were suspended because of the derailment, which occurred at the end of America's travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
A Metro-North passenger train that derailed in New York City Sunday morning has left at least 4 dead and dozens injured, Gov.
NEW YORK ? Authorities on Sunday night identified the four people killed in an early morning train derailment as federal authorities say they are just beginning to search into what caused the accident. Federal authorities said in an afternoon press conference they will examine factors ranging from the track condition to the crew's performance. The speed limit on the curve is 30 mph, compared with 70 mph in the area approaching it, National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said. Authorities did not yet know how fast the train was traveling but had found a data recorder, he said.
In their efforts to find passengers, rescuers shattered windows, searched nearby woods and waters and used pneumatic jacks and air bags to peer under wreckage.
The whole train comprised seven cars, plus a diesel locomotive, and five of the cars went off the tracks, said Metro-North spokesman Aaron Donovan. The derailment occurred near the Harlem River, and authorities say two cars were left lying on their sides, although none of the cars went into the nearby waterway.

Donovan said a locomotive was pushing the train from behind, although the operating engineer who controlled the train was stationed in the front of the first passenger car. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said there were initial concerns that people may have been ejected from the train after the crash and landed in the water. The patients, Patti said, suffered mostly broken bones, including compound fractures where bone pierces the skin. Edwin Valero was in an apartment building above the accident scene when the train derailed. He says he didn't realize the train had turned on its side until he saw a firefighter walking on the window. Metro-North said it will provide bus service between White Plains and the Tarrytown Station for customers traveling in and out of Grand Central Station. Amtrak Empire Line Service is currently being suspended between New York City and Albany, and no estimate was available for when service would be restored. However, Amtrak said Northeast Corridor service between Boston and Washington is not affected.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that six people aboard the train and the car's driver were killed in the crash. I thought about it," said Alan Trager, 65, chief executive officer of a non-profit agency, as he rode the same train line out of Grand Central Terminal to White Plains on Thursday. The engineer seems to have admitted exactly that -- he was in a daze just before the crash. They're checking his meds to see if he was taking anything to help him negotiate that shift change. Billy is very agitated by this to the point where he really couldn't go forward on Monday" with the NTSB interview, Bottalico said.
The middle track was badly damaged and the outer track closest to the river was destroyed, officials said.
Officials said six persons, including the female driver of the Jeep Cherokee struck by the train and five train passengers, were killed. We reserve the right to exclude comments which are inconsistent with our editorial standards. Two cars toppled on their side and two others also completely left the track, barely staying on their wheels. Weener said there was no indication that this was a factor in the most recent incident, but noted it would be part of the probe.
The unnamed train driver survived the crash, police said, and was being treated in hospital.
Weener said investigators had not yet spoken to the train conductor, who was among the injured. Crews planned to bring in cranes during the night to right the overturned cars on the slight chance anyone might still be underneath, Weener said. The NYPD dispatched its dive team, helicopters and canine squad and nothing was found, Kelly said. Sunday?s incident occurred just south of where a train ferrying garbage derailed in mid-July. He said that although none of the cars went into the water where the Harlem River meets the Hudson, at least one ended up a few feet from the water?s edge. I want to know that if a health issue did contribute, that it was a chance thing, and not something that could have been treated or found out earlier or should have been. Andrew Cuomo said the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash. However, the union guy was probably just trying to spare the engineer from getting crucified in the press -- which could easily have happened. The union, which provided a lawyer to Rockefeller, has since been excluded from the ongoing investigation.

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