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
- The three supermarket co-workers in the car were killed; police said they may have been fleeing a minor fender-bender at the gates
Surveillance video obtained exclusively by News 4 New York shows the moment of impact when two Long Island Rail Road trains slammed into a vehicle on the tracks in Westbury, derailing one of the trains and sending it crashing into the platform and killing three people in the vehicle.
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.
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; 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.
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.
A photo captured from inside one of the trains after the crash showed total wreckage.
The three men killed in the crash have not been identified, but a family member of the driver confirmed to News 4 that he was the man seen on surveillance video entering a barbershop on School Street with two other men, then driving off in a burgundy Jeep and stopping just before the railroad crossing.
The driver lived in a Hicksville home with his wife and three children, according to his landlord, Singh Sukhjinder.
Police say they hope to use more surveillance video and eyewitness testimonies to piece together what exactly took place.
Gov. Cuomo 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 and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 passengers and crew on the two trains.
Three of the injured remain at Nassau University Medical Center — two middle-aged men are in critical condition with spinal injuries and internal bleeding, police say.
One of the severely injured is 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 still hospitalized with less severe injuries is a woman in her 40s who suffered a seizure while also trapped in the debris.
LIRR President Phillip Eng said the gates at the crossing were properly functioning.
"The gates were down, the lights were flashing. We've confirmed that they were functioning," he said. "Witnesses have said the vehicle went around the gates, at which point the train that was leaving, heading eastbound, and the vehicle collided.
Passenger Kiara Jackson told Newsday she heard the sound of metal dragging along the concrete platform.
"I knew something was wrong. We were in a panic," Jackson said. "There was a screech and then there was a thud. They told us to walk westerly and there were two small fires. Smoke was kind of coming in so they told us to just keep walking."
Another passenger, April Frazier, 31, of Brooklyn, was heading to Penn Station.
"I was sitting on the left side and all of a sudden the train really started rocking hard," Frazier told Newsday. "Flames flared up on my side. I heard the conductor yell 'Brake, brake!' That's when I saw the flames."
Crews on Wednesday were able to pull away the six undamaged cars from the train at the scene of the collision; they then focused on rerailing the two damaged cars overnight and removed the remainder of the train early Thursday, the MTA said.
There's been extensive damage to the rails, signal equipment and third rail underneath the damaged train, the MTA said.
LIRR service will continue to be disrupted into Thursday. Union Avenue was also closed between School Street and Post Avenue due to track repairs. Get the latest transit updates here.
The LIRR will be able to restore full train service once all track repairs are made.