Valhalla, NY Metro And SUV Collision, Feb 2015
6 DEAD AFTER METRO-NORTH TRAIN COLLIDES WITH SUV.
Valhalla, N.Y. - Six people were killed and 15 injured when a Metro-North train slammed into an SUV dashing across the tracks in Westchester Tuesday night, causing a massive explosion and fire that trapped rush hour commuters inside, sources said.
A Harlem Line train was heading toward the Hawthorne Station when a woman driving a black Jeep Cherokee tried to cross the tracks and was bulldozed.
The impact unhinged the electrified
third rail, which pierced the lead car and caused a blast that ripped apart the passenger compartment, where five of the victims died, sources said. The driver of the Jeep also died.
"No one here has ever seen anything like this," a law enforcement source told The Post.
"There were people with severed limbs. It was a gruesome scene."
Passengers in the train's other cars heard the blast and feared for their lives.
"I was horrified - the crash and the flames," said passenger Devon Champagne, 23, of Brookfield, Conn.
"I thought I was going to die for a minute. It was the scariest moment of my life."
The deadly chain of events began as the crossing-barricade arm came down on the back of the Cherokee on Commerce Street, a witness said.
Instead of backing up, the driver -
who was stopped in traffic caused by an earlier car accident - continued to cross the tracks, after first getting out to check the damage to her SUV.
"I'm signaling and yelling for her to back up and reverse, and I'm thinking the clock is ticking here," said Richard Hope, who was driving behind her. "But she gets back in her car and starts driving forward over the tracks."
The Jeep didn't get far - and was pulverized by the train.
"The train hit her the second she drove over," Hope said. "Maybe she thought she had enough time to make it to the other side of the tracks."
Passengers on the train said they felt a jolt upon impact.
"I felt a big bump and I just kind of shot forward a little bit," said Fred Buonocore, 45, of Ridgefield, Conn. "Then everything went silent."
As the 60-foot piece of third rail pierced the train, the locomotive continued for hundreds of feet, dragging the Jeep.
"We heard a huge explosion at the front of the train. It was just like, 'Kapow!'" Buonocore said.
People started screaming and freaking out.
Other passengers tried to get to the commuters in the first car.
"They were basically trapped in there with the fire," said passenger Jamie Wallace, 44, of Ridgefield, Conn. "A few of us in my car tried to break the glass so we could get through, but to no avail."
Some of the passengers began to panic as the compartment became engulfed in flames.
"People were clearly getting more and more anxious, and that's when we started to get the emergency doors and windows open," Buonocore said.
"I cut my hand a little after I bashed some emergency glass and slid the emergency door open, and then we all just started climbing off the train."