“Everybody here is hurting,” said Giovanny Taveras, floor manager at the Fine Fare supermarket on Old Country Road in Westbury. “They were good workers.”
The three store employees, who all reportedly emigrated from Central American countries, were killed Feb. 26 when their vehicle was struck by two trains at the School Street crossing about six-tenths of a mile away.
A tribute table had been set up opposite the row of cash registers for the three, who had, according to Taveras, eight children among them.
Their names have not been released by the MTA Police, which is investigating the accident.
In addition to photo collages of the victims, a five-gallon water jug and donation box stood on the table, with a sign in both English and Spanish asking for donations: “We thank you for your support for their families. In loving memory of our dear friends and coworkers.”
One of the victims reportedly ran the dairy department and two others worked in the meat department. Taveras said they had been employee for 9 and 7 years and 8 months respectively.
Published reports indicated that their vehicle got into what was described as a “fender bender,” and a witness reported that they fled after the other driver said she was going to call the police.
Their vehicle, traveling southbound on School Street, went around the gates and was first struck a eastbound train that had just left the Westbury Station about 1,000 feet away. It was spun around and then struck by a faster moving westbound train. The vehicle was dragged between the trains, killing all three occupants.
José Almonte of Valley Stream, who has a vending delivery route, worked at the store years ago and said he had gotten to know one of the victims “real well.”
“They were good workers, responsible, hard-working guys,” Almonte said of the men as he placed Sweet Rainbow candy on a stand. “It’s such a sad, sad situation.”
Back At The Station
The westbound train’s first two cars had derailed in the crash. Wednesday night into Thursday morning, LIRR crews and equipment had placed the cars back on the tracks. A locomotive was ready to pull the cars away.
Workers were also laying down replacement rails where the train had damaged the tracks.
Only the eastbound track was operating at Westbury.
A message on the MTA website stated, “There is limited service in both directions on the Huntington/Port Jefferson & Ronkonkoma Branches, as LIRR crews continue to make repairs following the collision at the School Street crossing. Customers may experience delays up to 10 minutes as trains operate through the work zone.”