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Some Metro-North Passengers Walked Aimlessly Until Help Arrived

Traffic was blocked from getting near the scene of Tuesday night's fatal train crash.
Traffic was blocked from getting near the scene of Tuesday night's fatal train crash. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- For some passengers, the minutes seemed like hours, but help was on the way.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino described the scene Tuesday of the Metro-North wreck north of Commerce Street in Hawthorne that claimed six lives.

"Walking through Gate of Heaven Cemetery, walking on the Taconic (Parkway). Trying to find a way home,'' Astorino said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at an impromptu news conference at the crash scene about 11 p.m., said, "This is a truly ugly and brutal night."

Flames shot from the first railcar and black smoke billowed from its windows. Metro North was calling it the worst train wreck in its history.

Dazed passengers, some of them moaning or screaming, were evacuated through the rear of the train near the original Commerce Street crossing where the train hit a black Jeep Cherokee.

As late as 8:30 p.m., friends and family members of potential passengers were pulling up to the crash scene and to train stations in Valhalla and Hawthorne to look for loved ones. Many walked about a mile south to the Valhalla station to get rides.

An estimated  400 of the train's 650 passengers either walked to or shuttled by MTA bus to a nearby rock climbing facility called The Cliffs, across the Taconic Parkway on Commerce Street.

The MTA also used buses to transport passengers to the Pleasantville train station. Chappaqua was the northbound 5:45 p.m. express train's first stop after 125th Street.

Hundreds of rescue workers from dozens of fire departments responded. Astorino and many of the passengers had praise for how quickly they arrived and how responsive they were.

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