Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder revealed new information about the deadly grade crossing accident in Westbury on Tuesday night. A witness, according to Ryder, reported that the driver of the car that crossed the tracks at the School Street intersection while the gates were down was fleeing a minor accident.
Police said all three occupants died after the vehicle was hit by both eastbound and westbound Long Island Rail Road trains. LIRR President Phillip Eng said that the gates were down and the warning lights were working. The incident happened at about 7:15 p.m. about 1,000 feet east of the Westbury railroad station terminal. The MTA Police is in charge of the investigation, and as per policy, have not yet released the names of the dead pending notification of their families.
The first two cars of the westbound train derailed as it dragged the vehicle—too mangled to be identified, according to police—and smashed into the platform. Parts of the concrete and steel structure was toppled. Another section penetrated the first car, and according to Ryder, the train engineer ran to the back of the train car before the impact, an action the commissioner said saved his life.
Ryder and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran held a press conference Wednesday morning at Nassau University Medical Center, where seven people were taken after suffering minor injuries on the westbound train.
Also that morning, about 30 or 40 feet of the eastern part of the damaged north railway platform were being removed as crews prepared put the first two cars back on the track.
There were widespread delays Wednesday as the crash and loss of the westbound tracks forced the LIRR to reroute many trains.
Under the ongoing Third Track Project, the MTA will eliminate the School Street crossing. The tracks will remain at grade, but vehicle traffic will flow underneath.
View video of the press conference with Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder on our Facebook page.
Stay with The Westbury Times for updated information about the crash and the aftermath.