Updated: 12:40 p.m.
Six people have died and 15 were injured in Valhalla, N.Y. after a Metro-North train crashed into a vehicle on the tracks Tuesday evening.
The collision, which caused a fire and pushed the Jeep Cherokee S.U.V. 10 train-car lengths north of the crossing at which the crash occurred, happened at around 6:30 p.m. in the Westchester County hamlet. Service on the Harlem Line, running north to Wassaic, N.Y. from Manhattan, has since been suspended between White Plains, N.Y. and Pleasantville, N.Y. The New York Times reported that the woman driving the car and six other passengers aboard the train were killed. After the crash, MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan said that the front of the train caught fire, and approximately 400 passengers were evacuated.
“I will be asking many questions in the days ahead about how this accident happened,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 said in a statement. “I will work vigorously to ensure that we have safeguards in place to ensure that we don’t have to witness an event like this again.”
Blumenthal added that he had begun contacting the federal railroad administration to start an immediate investigation.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said in a press release that he had spoken to MTA Chief Thomas Prendergast, who confirmed that an investigation into the causes of the crash has already begun.
“It is premature to point any fingers of blame,” Schumer said. “But there are many important questions that must be answered in the coming days.”
The crash is the latest in a series of accidents on Metro-North in recent years. In December 2013, a derailment near Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx killed four passengers and injured 61. In May 2013, a derailment in Fairfield, Conn. injured 72; later in the month, a train fatally struck a Metro-North worker in West Haven, Conn. A similar accident killed another worker in March 2014.
Samantha Brown ’17, who takes Metro-North to the Mount Vernon East station to travel to her home in Yonkers, N.Y., said the accident Tuesday evening came as a shock.
Brown said she was aware of Metro-North-related accidents and emergencies, which she said appear to “happen all the time,” but she had never heard of casualties occurring prior to this accident.
“I would really like to see if there’s positive change out of this,” Brown said.
New Haven Director of Transportation, Traffic and Parking Doug Hausladen ’04 said the city is concerned with any safety risks that affect the mass transit system and New Haven residents. But because the city has no jurisdiction over the MTA — an organization run cooperatively by New York and Connecticut — the city cannot directly respond to the accident, Hausladen added.
Hausladen said New Haven, as a part of the New York metropolitan area, is concerned about any safety issues in the public transit system. He praised Gov. Dannel Malloy for his fiscal support of Metro-North, and added that rail is still a much safer means of transportation than automobiles.