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valhalla train accident today

Instead, it found the design of the rails themselves did. [13] Alan, who had once worked as a conductor in his native South Africa,[16] did not believe she was familiar with the area through which she was driving,[13]:15–17 or that she was familiar with grade crossings. "[46], "[T]he exposure goes well beyond simply knowing people on the train," said a psychiatrist at a nearby hospital. [13]:56–57, The NTSB did not address whether Metro-North's use of under-running third rails had contributed to the severity of the accident. [37], At that point in 2015, it was the deadliest passenger train crash in the United States since the 2009 Washington Metro train collision, which killed nine people and injured 80 others. [13]:35 But in this case, with only two exceptions, the third rail's 6-foot (2 m) sections had largely remained joined in larger sections averaging 39 feet (12 m) in length, weighing a ton (800 kg) each, as they accumulated in the first and second cars. Most were from passengers injured or killed, including the Brody family, all alleging negligence. The accident seemed to him almost to be something from the works of writer John Cheever, who lived in nearby Briarcliff Manor and set much of his fiction amid the suburbs, featuring commuters as his characters: "[He] might have conjured the haunting details of the Harlem Line crash: the lead-footed irony of 'Valhalla,' the survivors wandering through the cemetery to safety. The NTSB noted that the Federal Railroad Administration had been working to update its grade crossing database and provide it to the manufacturers of GPS systems; it expected to have that done by late 2017. "The opening of the docket is part of the ongoing investigation into the crash that fatally injured six and injured more than a dozen," wrote NTSB officials in a statement. [57][k], However, residents in the area, particularly those who lived near the crossings, objected vehemently. Then the car moved forward, 30 seconds after the gate had come down on her car, investigators determined later. County Executive Rob Astorino, who said his commute takes him through that area, called the intersections and turns "very confusing for drivers". The train hit the S.U.V., a black Jeep Cherokee, in the crossing at Commerce Street in Valhalla, N.Y., around 6:30 p.m., officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said. Damage to a transition jumper isolated the rail on the east of the track, south of the intersection, from its counterpart west of the track and north of the intersection. But Steve Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) official, told the Associated Press it would be impossible to be sure that an under-running shoe lifted the rail without also doing tests to see if the same thing would happen in the more common over-running configuration. [23], Deadliest accident in history of New York's Metro-North Railroad, NTSB investigators survey the vehicles involved in the accident, Other transportation accidents with similar elements, A little more than three months later it was overtaken by the, The line, from Grand Central Terminal to Southeast station, is, In 2016, the spouse agreed in a newspaper interview that she would have had to have driven over the Lakeview Avenue grade crossing to make the turn up Commerce Street and the accident site.". As reported by CBS New York, the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) is set to release the results of its investigation of a deadly train accident that took place two years ago in Valhalla, New York. "We intend to find out what makes this accident different. The report's recommendations, she concluded, "will aid in preventing this type of tragic accident in the future. It found many of them unlikely or insufficient explanations for her action. It would compensate for the loss of westbound traffic at the intersection by changing the timing of the traffic signals on the Taconic, adding a left turn lane at the Lakeview intersection, and restricting truck traffic to local deliveries. The SUV was stopped partially fouling the tracks in the grade crossing and positioned in an easterly direction when the railroad crossing gates closed. [13][17] Unable to continue south on the Taconic at Lakeview, she turned west, then north up Commerce Street, towards the intersection she had previously passed. Damage has been estimated by MN at $3.1M. [21] In the cab, Smalls saw the ML350 completely block the tracks when the train was one car length, approximately 85 feet (26 m) away, and braced for impact. They then obtained the rail's design specifications from the manufacturer and, based on Metro-North's own maintenance diagrams of how those rail sections were to be joined, developed a computer simulation using finite element modeling to determine how the rail might react to loads and stresses similar to those it would likely have experienced during the accident, both horizontally and vertically. Had she done so, it might have provided additional warning that a grade crossing was nearby. "[47], On the night of the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened an investigation into the accident, and dispatched a go-team to the site. [13], Several weeks after the accident, the design of the ML350's gear shift lever, a small paddle that protrudes from the steering column, rather than the usual large lever between the seats, was suggested as a possible cause of the accident. From these sources many small fires developed, merging to the point that when Smalls was able to get out of the cab after the train stopped, he recalled that the center and rear of the car were already significantly ablaze. The parties to the investigation include Metro-North Railroad, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, the Town of Mount Pleasant, and the New York Public Transportation Safety Board. A final one went up into the roof and punctured the second car at that point as well. First responders work at the scene of a train accident on Feb. 3, 2015, in Valhalla, New York. [63], In 2018 it was disclosed that Smalls had reached a confidential settlement of a legal claim he had made against the MTA; his attorney said the engineer had never returned to work, was no longer employed by Metro-North, and had post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the crash. The investigators consulted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found neither recalls nor complaints related to the shifter positioning or operation. The analysis and probable cause for the accident will be issued at a later date.". During his interview with investigators, Metro-North's power director told them he believed the third rails were designed to break up in accidents and fail to the side, away from the train,[13]:51–53 since they had done so during the 1984 single-fatality accident at that same crossing. [29] Uninjured passengers, who had either escaped or had been evacuated, were taken to a nearby climbing gym called The Cliffs, where they were able to stay warm until buses arrived. To put the car in drive, the driver must push the paddle down; pulling it up puts it in reverse. [13]:46–50, Brody appeared to have slept well, according to her husband, in the days leading up to the accident. "This focus likely consumed her attention; hindering her ability to detect, perceive, and respond to audible and visual cues that the train was approaching," its report said. [13]:53–54 In fact none of the five deaths on the train were a result of the fire; no soot was found in those passengers' airways. One car of a commuter train caught fire after hitting an SUV on February 3, 2015, 20 miles north of New York City. [16] It could not be determined if she had the phone on speaker, which would have allowed her to keep both hands on the wheel, but according to Alan, the ML350 was equipped with software that automatically detected the phone if it was in the vehicle and put it on speaker. Eleven sections of rail were found inside the first railcar and the entire railcar interior was consumed by fire. [8][9] At the controls was Stephen Smalls, a 32-year-old resident of Orange County, a three-year Metro-North employee. [14] Damage was estimated at $3.7 million. "We do have grade-crossing accidents, and most of the time it's fatal for occupants of the vehicles, and not for train passengers," Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB told The Journal News, Westchester County's main daily newspaper. Officials in the town of, June 2009 Washington Metro train collision, New York State Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, another grade crossing accident in California, List of traffic collisions (2000–present), Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, "Investigation Underway in Metro-North Train Crash", "Grade crossing safety: The "Waze" of the future", "Brandon Bostian Agrees to Talk About Amtrak Derailment but May Recall Little", "Metro-North engineer is shocked he survived train-SUV crash that killed 6", "How the Most Fatal Train Crash in Metro-North History Unfolded", "Harlem Line timetable effective November 9, 2014", "Union: Engineer battled flames, smoke to save riders", "Valhalla train crossing was site of 1984 fatal crash", "Rail Crossing Accidents Decline Nationwide, but Less So in New York Region", "Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision, Commerce Street, Valhalla, New York; February 3, 2015", "Six killed as New York train hits vehicle", "One year later, Ellen Brody is the legal focus of Valhalla train crash", "Friends and Colleagues Remember Lives Lost in the Metro-North Crash", "Train-crash victim's husband wants changes at crossings", "Witness: 'Terrible crunching sound' and the car was gone", "Metro-North Commerce Street crossing inspection report", "SUV Inside Train Gates for About 30 Seconds Before NY Crash", "On 4th anniversary of Valhalla Metro-North crash, third rail is focus of litigation", "NTSB Braces For Long Investigation Into Metro-North Crash", "Did Electrified Third Rail Make Metro-North Train Wreck Deadlier? Metro-North service resumed the next morning, with delays of 15 minutes for trains to slow down at the accident site. [13]:43–44, Three of the four members of the NTSB filed individual statements to go with the report. Video public service announcements ran on screens in larger stations served by MTA trains, including Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and Fulton Center. It continues northwest through the cemetery for a quarter-mile (400 m), then turns north again down a slight rise back over another grade crossing, just north of a brick electrical substation, to a signal-controlled intersection with the parkway. After failed efforts to break the door open, "[a] number of us started smelling fumes from the car, the fuel, and we said, 'You know what, we need to get out. The train, traveling at 51 miles per hour (82 km/h), struck the SUV on its passenger side[13]:31–32 at 6:26 p.m.[13]:15–17, "There was a terrible crunching sound, and just like that, the car was gone," Hope said. [50], Another unusual aspect was the configuration of the third rail. '"[22], Due to disruptions in the railroad's electrical system created by the accident, the third rails were not completely de-energized immediately. The Westchester Metro-North Train crash today erupted late this evening. [13]:20[d], The call was dropped at 6:19; Alan was not sure if it was because his phone or his wife's had lost power. "If someone isn't familiar with one of these systems, they could do exactly the wrong thing in an emergency," said the magazine's director of auto testing, Jake Fisher, who admitted to having made that mistake more than once. All but one of the victims were Westchester residents. [13]:53–54, Passengers in the center and rear were able to use the emergency exits as intended to escape the car since the rear door was jammed by a section of third rail that had gone through it. The Brodys had only bought the car two months earlier, Consumer Reports noted, and it was possible Ellen might have still been getting used to this newer method of changing gears, and making the occasional mistake, such as her otherwise apparently inexplicable move into the train's path after Hope had backed up to allow her to do so as well. But circuit breakers that had detected the loss in power to the former restored it to the last four cars of the train, which remained in contact with that rail, until a manual override was sent a minute and a half afterwards. [e] Hope says Brody's SUV was in front of the gate as it descended, but not on the tracks. He had been an engineer for nine months. One detour available to northbound traffic involved using Lakeview Avenue and turning at the large Kensico Cemetery, a short distance to the west. "[49] George Bibel, author of Train Wreck: The Forensics of Rail Disasters, agreed that this is uncommon. All the deaths save one of the train passengers were attributed to blunt force trauma; that exception was due to burns and other injuries making it difficult to determine the cause. ST LOUIS (LALATE) – The Valhalla train crash 2015 today has now resulted in six deaths. [23], Passengers in the first car reported small fires breaking out right after the crash, which investigators determined later were fueled by a combination of flaming debris of the third-rail cover, materials from Brody's ML350 and interior components of the train car. She may well have known she was near the tracks and left the ML350 to see where she was in relation to them, since it had blind spots at the front and rear, Weener added. Upon installation when the car first came into service in 2000, the seat upholstery materials had met FRA flammability standards as required by regulation, but the testing carried out after the accident showed this to be no longer the case. [16] Behind her was a vehicle driven by Rick Hope of Yorktown Heights, returning home from his job in White Plains. "It's way too early to be guessing about what could have or couldn't have made a difference," said a spokesman for the New York State Department of Transportation. [13]:71–72 A week after the report was released, a third member, Earl Weener, filed a dissenting statement. He also said he and his coworkers often complained about how quickly the train came after the gates went down, gates which had been installed after a 1984 crash killed a van driver. [1] The New York Daily News reported that injuries from them were responsible for most of the deaths on the train;[26] later it was reported that four of them had, like Brody, died of blunt force trauma. Have not been released to news have been less severe or avoided entirely [ 29 ] two after... Harlem Line service was suspended between Pleasantville and North White Plains report submit! This type of tragic accident in the crossing recommendations, she said Brody... Work in investigating the accident, the dissenting member, Earl Weener, filed a statement. 10 ], after the gate had come down on her car, Chris Gross was suddenly thrown out his. Within a foot ( 30 cm ) of his face ; another passenger got the brake. [ 19 ], the only other lines that use under-running third rails adjacent to grade have... Released, a third member, Weener, dismissed speculation as to Brody 's motives allocated for a few at. Street reopened to car traffic on the tracks, '' he said good.! Recorder data showed that train was occupied by 2 crew members and approximately passengers... The seats seemed to be like collapsing '', one passenger in the grade crossing, train 659 approaching. Silence '' and Anxiety dismissed speculation as to Brody 's death made it to. Cleared the vehicles, using a grade crossing was Commerce Street reopened to car on! 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