New York

Identities of 2 Victims in Fiery Long Island Rail Road Crash Released

Three men in the car died in the collision; the identity of the third victim is pending DNA results

What to Know

  • Surveillance video shows the fiery moment of impact when two LIRR trains collided with a car on the tracks in Westbury
  • The video also shows one of the trains derailing and crashing into the concrete platform; three men died and eight people were hurt
  • The three supermarket co-workers in the car were killed; police said they may have been fleeing a minor fender-bender at the gates

Two of the three victims of this week's obliterating crash involving two Long Island Rail Road trains and a vehicle on the tracks have been identified. 

An MTA spokesman released the identities of 28-year-old Saul Martinez Caravantes and 36-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez Luna, both of Westbury, on Thursday. The identity of the third victim is pending DNA results and likely won't be confirmed for the next week or so, the spokesman said. 

The three people inside the car were co-workers at a supermarket nearby, according to the store manager. Just moments before the crash, they were seen on surveillance video inside a barbershop nearby. 

Police now believe those men were involved in a minor fender bender near the School Street crossing in Westbury; their vehicle hit a car in front of it, and then pulled out from between the line of cars waiting at the gate to go around the gate. LIRR officials have said the crossing gates were working properly. 

The official release of the victims' identities comes hours after News 4 New York exclusively obtained surveillance video that shows the moment of impact when the two trains slammed into the men's vehicle as it sat on the tracks. One of the trains derailed; it went crashing into the platform.

The video from Taxi Universal shows an eastbound LIRR train leaving the Westbury station Tuesday night; less than a minute later, a ball of fire erupts as the train crashes into the SUV (see the left side of the screen in the video).

Seconds later, a westbound train headed toward Penn Station is seen crashing into the platform at the station. That train also hit the SUV, causing a derailment and damage to the platform.

Witness Yuri Cruz, who was working at Taxi Universal, heard the impact and ran out to see the aftermath. 

"[We heard] a lot of people screaming, and we saw a lot of people running on the platform on the other side. They were banging on the windows," Cruz said. 

An eastbound train carrying around 800 passengers was just pulling out of the station, and hit the car at a relatively slow speed; but a westbound train carrying 200 passengers was going at "full speed" when it collided with the car. 

"The train then leaves the track and takes out the platform and the hits the north side of the platform and takes off about 30 yards of concrete, which goes through the train," said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. 

Police say they hope to use more surveillance video and eyewitness testimonies to piece together what exactly took place.

Gov. Cuomo has called for a "full investigation into the collision," which also injured eight, sending seven people on the trains to local hospitals with non-fatal injuries. Three of the injured remained at Nassau University Medical Center Wednesday; they were described as two middle-aged men with spinal injuries and internal bleeding, police say.

One of the severely injured was the train engineer who was trapped in the debris for a time after the train hit the platform and was subsequently rescued by Nassau cops, police say. The other person hospitalized with less severe injuries was a woman in her 40s who suffered a seizure while also trapped in the debris.

The crash disrupted LIRR service, causing major suspensions and delays, for two days. On Thursday afternoon, the LIRR said it would operate nearly full service on the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches for the evening rush. 

"LIRR employees and MTA Police acted with extraordinary bravery and foresight on the evening of the crash," LIRR President Phillip Eng said in a statement. "All of us are extremely thankful that the number of people injured on board the train, and the nature of those injuries, was not worse than it could have been."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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