Two commuter trains traveling in opposite directions collided with a vehicle on the tracks in Westbury, killing all three occupants in the vehicle before one of the trains derailed and tore into a concrete platform Tuesday night, according to officials.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the vehicle was “trying to beat the gate” when it was struck just before 7:30 p.m. He said one of the trains, which was carrying about 200 passengers and headed for Manhattan, was going at “full speed” when it crashed.
“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,” Ryder said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a “full investigation into the collision,” which also sent 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.
My heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones. In the wake of this tragedy, I am calling for a full investigation into the collision including with the complete cooperation of the MTA, State Police, local law enforcement and the NTSB. https://t.co/KsgdI7ZvI2— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) February 27, 2019
Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng said the vehicle went around the grade crossing and was struck by the train that was leaving Westbury station. He 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.
A westbound train traveling toward Westbury then struck the vehicle, he said. The vehicle was pushed and that’s when the front two cars of the westbound train came off the rails, Eng said.
Local TV news helicopter video showed the train cars standing upright after the wreck, but with the forward cars off the rails. One end of one the trains struck a station platform, crushing part of it.