Possible Suicide? Metro-North Slams Into Parked SUV Killing 7, Injures 12, Hundreds Evacuated In Worst Tragedy In Railroad’s History

The Metro-North killed 7 in a fiery collision as the commuter train filled with passengers struck a parked SUV late Tuesday evening in Valhalla, New York. Hundreds were evacuated from the flaming wreckage in the deadliest accident in the railroad’s history.

The driver of the black Jeep Cherokee had parked on the tracks at Commerce Street in Valhalla, N.Y., at approximately 6:30 pm EST. She then inspected the rear of the vehicle, then attempted to drive off, but was instead slammed by the Metro-North.

The Metro North then pushed the vehicle a span of 10 train cars as the wreckage came to a burning halt. The driver was killed along with at least six other metro train passengers.

Metro activity on the Harlem line was suspended as firefighters worked to put out the flames in the front cars and officials worked to investigate the accident.

Scott Miller, 45, a passenger in the second car of the Metro-North described what he saw as the train came to a blazing stop.

“The train screeched to a halt, and you immediately started smelling smoke. People started screaming, ‘Run to the back of the train,’ “

He grabbed his belongings and walked toward the back of the metro train as frightened passengers leapt from the windows.

Vernon Hodge, 40, explained what happened as he witness the events form the third car of the metro saying that “A few seconds after that first impact, the explosion happened. and I felt the shock wave from the explosion,” and stated further that “People almost started to get into a stampede, but it didn’t happen because they realized it wasn’t getting us anywhere.”

Firefighters work to battle the inferno

One eye witness gave a play-by-play on his twitter feed following the metro collision.

A nearby gym opened its doors to the metro victims, allowing them to seek temporary food and shelter. Kary Williams, general manager of the Cliffs at Valhalla told The Huffington Post that “there were people in need so we opened the doors up,” adding that ” “For what the situation was, I think everyone handled it incredibly from the rescue crews to the victims themselves.”

Tony Bottalico, A representative for Metro-North conductors and engineers told reporters that the driver of the metro train, who remains anonymous, helped passengers to escape the inferno.

“He did the best he could dragging people off the train…This kid saved a lot of lives.”

Firefighters rest after putting out blaze and rescuing passengers

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York issued a statement following a conversation with transportation authority chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast. “Our hearts go out to those lost, we pray for those injured and our hats are tipped to the brave first responders who came to the scene of this tragic crash so quickly.”

“At this early stage, it is premature to point any fingers of blame, but there are many important questions that must be answered in the coming days.”

Schumer has questioned the Metro-North’s safety following a string of accidents within the span of one year killing six, including a metro train derailment in the Bronx in 2013 that lead to four deaths.

James E. Hall, a former chairman of the safety board, called for an investigation as to whether a broken fuel line from the SUV may have led to the inferno as metro cars do not typically burst into flames.

Sean Patrick Maloney, a Metro-North representative, said that a full investigation was underway and steps would be taken to address safety concerns.

“As M.T.A. and N.T.S.B. look into this horrific incident in the days to follow, we need to know how and why this happened and then take real steps to prevent another tragic collision from ever recurring.”

Details are still emerging and no official cause has been reported, however, authorities are considering all possibilities.