Preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released on Thursday night regarding the deadly collision between a Harlem Line commuter train and an SUV indicate the Metro-North equipment involved in the incident was fully functional and in line with standard procedures.
NTSB board member Robert Llewellyn Sumwalt said in his third press release since the Tuesday night collision that left six dead that the Metro-North train had been traveling under the track’s 60-mile-per-hour speed limit, had sounded its horns according to protocol, and applied its emergency break before contact.
Additionally, Sumwalt said the Commerce Street boom gate was working correctly.
Grade crossing warning system at Commerce Street was tested found working and was turned back on. #MetroNorth
— NTSB (@NTSB) February 5, 2015
Less clear are the actions of the SUV’s driver, Ellen Schaeffer Brody of Edgemont, immediately before the crash. According to the NTSB, an eyewitness—who The Journal News has identified as Yorktown Heights resident Rick Hope—said Brody did not seem panicked before the impact. When the SUV was struck by the railroad-crossing’s closing gate, according to the witness, Brody exited the vehicle, inspected the gate, reentered the vehicle, and then pulled forward into the crossing before being struck by the train.
“What struck me was how calm she was—she didn’t seem to be panicking, or in a hurry at all, even though the gate was down,” Hope told The Journal News. “She wasn’t in a hurry at all, but she had to have known that a train was coming.”
View the third press conference below; the fourth press conference will be held at 5 pm ET on Friday, February 6.