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Warning Signals, Horn Operational At Time Of Metro-North Crash, NTSB Says

The NTSB released this photo of the train involved in the accident at its maintenance facility to be further examined. Photo Credit: NTSB
NTSB Third Media Briefing
NTSB Third Media Briefing Video Credit: ntsbgov
National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt addressed the media on Thursday in Tarrytown. Photo Credit: Zak Failla
The NTSB is continuing its investigation into the Metro-North train crash. Photo Credit: Zak Failla

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – After the first full day of investigating Tuesday’s deadly Metro-North crash, more questions than answers have emerged as details of the incident continue to trickle down from officials.

The witness who was driving behind Ellen Brody’s Mercedes SUV when it was struck by the train Tuesday night, said that traffic was “inching along” on Commerce Street near Lakeview Avenue as cars rerouted to avoid an accident that led to gridlock on the Taconic State Parkway, according to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt.

As Brody “inched” onto the crossing, the gates lowered, striking the rear of her SUV and coming to a stop on her window. The witness noted that he remembers seeing flashing warning lights, but did not recall hearing bells and sirens, which Sumwalt confirmed were sounded at the proper times.

“A preliminary review of data from the train event recorder showed that as the train approached the crossing, it sounded the horn properly,” Sumwalt said.

The early review shows that the train was travelling at 58 mph, under the 60 mph speed limit in the area. The emergency break was activated at 6:26:17 by an engineer, followed by a four second blast of the train’s warning horn. Once the emergency brake was applied, the train traveled approximately 950 feet before coming to a complete stop less than 30 seconds later.

Sumwalt announced that the preliminary review of details leading to the crash showed that all emergency signals, warning signage and systems – including the crossing arm and highway traffic signal -- were operating properly.

Although progress is slowly being made, Sumwalt warned that it is going to be a lengthy investigation. The NTSB is coordinating with Metropolitan Transportation Authority police to investigate the burned car, sifting through the ash and rubble for pieces of debris and the third rail that tore through the car.

Investigators are presently looking for physical, “perishable” evidence, though they will soon begin looking into possible cell phone data, possible cameras and other more technological means that will still be accessible in a few weeks.

“We’re painting a mosaic,” he said. “We’re going to collect each piece of information, then we’re going to take that, and see what the picture looks like.”

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