SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The woman who was killed when a Metro-North train smashed into her sport-utility vehicle was getting ready to celebrate her 50th birthday.

An art museum curator and a Wall Street executive were also among those killed on the train Tuesday.

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As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Ellen Brody, 49, of Scarsdale, was the tragic driver whose Mercedes-Benz SUV was caught on the tracks.

Early indications were that she made a serious mistake in heavy traffic.

“Apparently, the gate went down on the car, and she got out to put the gate up, and at that point, got back in the car and started driving, and she was hit by the train,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said.

The Harlem Line train smashed into Brody’s vehicle around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, sending the vehicle forward 10 train lengths and causing both the SUV and the first train car to burst into flames. Five men aboard the train were also killed, and 15 people were injured.

Brody had been making plans to celebrate her 50th birthday last month, friends said.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said Brody, 49, was a mother of three and a “wonderful, warm person.”

Ellen Brody, the driver of an SUV struck by a Metro-North train on Feb. 3, 2015. (credit: Image via Facebook)

Ellen Brody, the driver of an SUV struck by a Metro-North train on Feb. 3, 2015. (credit: Image via Facebook)

“It’s really devastating when you know somebody who’s involved in a tragedy. It’s devastating even if you don’t know the person. But when I learned about this, it’s just unbelievable.”

Feiner knew Brody and said she was not the type to try to beat the crossing arm and put other lives at risk.

“I cannot even believe that she’s gone,” said Brody’s friend, Varda Singer. “I think I’m still in denial.”

Singer was Brody’s boss at ICD Jewelry in Chappaqua. Co-worker Virginia Shasha spent time Tuesday night with Brody’s three children.

“It’s their mother,” Shasha said. “Their world is shattered.”

Among the other victims was Walter Liedtke, 69, who was killed onboard the train as he returned to his home in Bedford Hills.

Liedtke was an icon in the art world, serving as a curator of old masters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He had worked at the museum since 1980.

Liedtke was featured on CBS2 in 2006 among the paintings that were his passion, CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported.

“What you see in Rembrandt is a person puzzling out moral problems for themselves,” he said. “What strikes me is even though he’s representing himself as public persona, he’s so honest about way he looks.”

The scholar could explain an old master’s self-portrait in a way everyone could understand.

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A 2009 online biography said Liedtke had been responsible for the museum’s approximately 228 Dutch paintings and 100 Flemish paintings since 1980. He published exhaustive catalogues of each collection, and organized numerous major exhibitions – including “Rembrandt/Not Rembrandt in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (1995-1996), “Vermeer and the Delft School” (2001), and “The Age of Rembrandt” (2007).

In 2009, the curator in the department of European paintings was pleased people packed the galleries to see Johannes Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” on loan.

“We have as many as 7,500 a day, and I think it is a very special occasion,” Liedtke told Tyler.

CBS2’s Tyler said it was an honor to interview someone who knew so much.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art released a statement in part, saying “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. He will long be remembered for his vast knowledge, his wit, and a passion for art that inspired all who came in contact with him.”

Liedtke’s Bedford Hills neighbor, Eric Vandercar, was renowned on Wall Street – a senior managing director at Mesirow Financial.

Eric Vandercar was killed when the Metro-North train he was riding in struck an SUV on Feb. 4, 2015. (credit: Mesirow Financial)

Eric Vandercar was killed when the Metro-North train he was riding in struck an SUV on Feb. 4, 2015. (credit: Mesirow Financial)

“Eric was a great partner and friend to many,” Mesirow Financial said in a statement. “Losing him is a huge loss, personally and professionally. Our entire Mesirow family is hurting, and our deepest sympathies are extended to his wife, Jill, and their family.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Hackley School – an elite private school in Tarrytown – identified a fourth victim of the crash as Joseph Nadol. He was a father of three students at the school, Aiello reported.

Nadol, 42, was also an analyst for JPMorgan and lived in Ossining.

“Our thoughts and support are with Joe’s family during this difficult time,” a JPMorgan representative said in a statement.

Joseph Nadol

Joseph Nadol of JPMorgan was among those killed in the Metro-North accident in Valhalla on Tuesday, Feb. 3. (Credit: JPMorgan)

A fifth victim was identified late Wednesday as Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury, Connecticut, according to the Danbury Mayor’s office.

A sixth victim’s identification had not been confirmed late Wednesday.

Shasha said Brody’s family was mourning for all of the victims.

“One of the first things her husband said to me last night – he was so devastated for everyone else that has suffered at this time,” she said. “It’s not just our personal loss. It’s a tragedy for everybody.”

Astorino said with the exception of one of the victims, all of the bodies were severely burned.


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