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Six People Dead After New York Passenger Train Hits Car, Catches Fire

The Metro-North Harlem Line train struck a car Tuesday evening near Valhalla, New York. In addition to the dead, at least 12 were injured, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Originally posted on
Updated on

A Metro-North train struck a car Tuesday evening near Valhalla, New York, leaving six people dead and more injured, officials reported.

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The crash occurred on the northbound Harlem Line when the train struck a Jeep Cherokee on the Commerce Street crossing around 7:08 p.m., according to the MTA.

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The crossing's gates came down on the vehicle as it stopped on the tracks, the MTA said. The female driver got out of the Jeep to look at the car, then got in and drove forward, the MTA said.

The train pushed the Jeep about 10 car lengths before coming to a stop, after which it caught fire. The driver of the Jeep was killed, as well as five passengers on the train. At least twelve were injured, including the train's engineer, officials said.

In a news conference late Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it was amazing that more people had not been hurt.

ABC 7 / Via 7online.com

"This is a truly ugly and brutal site," he said.

As a result of the explosion, the tracks' third rail came up through the Jeep and the floor of the train's first car. An investigation will continue to examine the cause of the crash.

The governor thanked first responders and said the victims were in his thoughts.

"It's a painful reminder to all of us how precious life is and sometimes how random it can be," Cuomo said.

Passengers recalled feeling a jolt, followed by a brief announcement, prompting hundreds to evacuate. The extent of injuries was not immediately known.

Front of train completely burnt out @RidgefieldPress @NewsTimes

JB@anabolicappleFollow

Front of train completely burnt out

@RidgefieldPress @NewsTimes

7:18 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The fire engulfed the Jeep and first car of the train. The fire spread to the first of the train's eight cars. Passengers described chaos after the crash.

People just opened the emergency door - they’re jumping out onto tracks. No guidance from @MetroNorth on what to do @NewsTimes

JB@anabolicappleFollow

People just opened the emergency door - they’re jumping out onto tracks. No guidance from @MetroNorth on what to do

@NewsTimes

3:44 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

They used ladders and some broke emergency glass to evacuate, NBC reported.

Passengers found selves in darkened, snowy cemetery, all went in random directions looking for other ways home #BREAKING #abc7NY

Josh Einiger@JoshEiniger7Follow

Passengers found selves in darkened, snowy cemetery, all went in random directions looking for other ways home #BREAKING #abc7NY

4:46 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Front of @MetroNorth train well on fire after hitting car @NewsTimes @RidgefieldPress

JB@anabolicappleFollow

Front of @MetroNorth train well on fire after hitting car

@NewsTimes @RidgefieldPress

3:52 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

View this video on YouTube

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Passengers and others at the scene described the horrific aftermath.

Frank Becerra Jr. / AP

"My first thought was that it was a signal error," passenger Alex Bernier told the Journal News. "There was a bit of confusion on the train. We all kind of shuffled to the back," he said. "People just started opening windows (to get out)."

A union representative told the Wall Street Journal that the train's young operator helped a number of people to safety following the crash.

"He did the best he could dragging people off the train,” Tony Bottalico said. “This kid saved a lot of lives.”

That’s all I can stomach. It’s a mess. Poor people

JB@anabolicappleFollow

That’s all I can stomach. It’s a mess.

Poor people

4:27 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

Horrific scene. 3rd rail totally through front train. Heavy fire and smoke damage. At least 7 dead and 10 hurt. Pray for the deceased.

Rob Astorino@RobAstorinoFollow

Horrific scene. 3rd rail totally through front train. Heavy fire and smoke damage. At least 7 dead and 10 hurt. Pray for the deceased.

6:58 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The crash disrupted service throughout the line and closed nearby roads. Shuttle buses would serve some parts of the line on Wednesday, officials said.

Harlem Line Service is temporarily suspended btwn N White Plains & Pleasantville due to a train striking a motor vehicle near Valhalla.

Metro-North Railroad@MetroNorthFollow

Harlem Line Service is temporarily suspended btwn N White Plains & Pleasantville due to a train striking a motor vehicle near Valhalla.

4:13 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

In addition to local investigations, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday night it was sending a team to the scene.

NTSB launching go team to investigate Metro North crash this evening in Westchester County NY

NTSB@NTSBFollow

NTSB launching go team to investigate Metro North crash this evening in Westchester County NY

7:12 PM - 03 Feb 15ReplyRetweetFavorite

The death toll in this post was updated:

New York state officials revised the death toll of the train crash to six people on Wednesday morning -- the driver of the Jeep and five people in the train. Earlier, New York state officials said seven people had died.

Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Claudia Koerner at claudia.koerner@buzzfeed.com.

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