NTSB issues preliminary report on Valhalla train crash


Investigators on the scene of the crash

VALHALLA – The National Transportation Safety Board has issued
its preliminary report on the crash between a Metro-North commuter train
and an SUV in Valhalla on February 3 that left six people dead.

The driver of the vehicle, Ellen Brody, and five passengers on the train,
died in the crash just before 6:30 p.m.

The NTSB said the SUV was stopped on the railroad tracks in the highway-rail
grade crossing and was positioned in an easterly direction when the railroad
crossing gates closed. When they lowered, they struck the rear of the
vehicle after which the driver got out, looked at the back and got back
in the vehicle, droving forward and being struck by the train.

The train was traveling at 58 miles per hour prior to emergency breaking
and sounding the horn, the NTSB said. The recorder indicated the engineer
activated the emergency brakes about 300 feet before the collision after
observing what he characterized as, “a vehicle partially fouling
the crossing.”
The event recorder data indicated the train slowed to 49 mph when it
struck the vehicle.

The train and the SUV continued northbound resulting in the damage of
the electrified third rail on the west side of the track, the federal
investigators said. That third rail detached, pierced the SUV and then
entered the railcar in two locations from the underside.
The train and SUV came to rest about 650 feet from the point of the
collision. Some 480 feet of third rail was damaged. Twelve sections of
third rail, each 39 feet long, were found inside the first passenger car.

The NTSB will conduct a metallurgical examination of some of the third
rail. Samples from the interior of the lead train will also be examined
by NTSB investigators for compliance with fire protection standards.
The weather at the time of the accident was reported to be 20 degreed
with a light wind, clear skies and good visibility.
Metro-North estimates the damage from the crash to be $3.7 million.

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