VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A team of federal investigators arrived Wednesday at the Westchester County site of a crash that authorities have called the deadliest in Metro-North’s history.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, federal investigators gathered around the crumpled Mercedes sport-utility vehicle as they arrived. It had been stuck in traffic at the Commerce Street grade crossing in Valhalla when the fast-moving Harlem Line train obliterated it at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, eventually killing the driver and five men aboard the train.
“That train had so many flames in it; it was so engulfed. The inside of that first car is just melted and charred with the third rail going straight through it. So the scene is just horrific and unimaginable,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said Wednesday.
Astorino examined the wreckage following the accident.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced late Wednesday that full service will resume on the Harlem Line of the Metro-North Railroad Thursday morning.
The first train to operate over the Commerce Street crossing where the accident happened will be the 4:26 a.m. departure from Southeast, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. The train will arrive at Grand Central Terminal at 5:30 a.m.
Cuomo warned that Metro-North customers should expect delays Thursday morning, as there is still an active work zone at the site of the accident.
Speaking to “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, Cuomo said of the wreck, “This was as gruesome as I have seen.”
“It’s really inexplicable,” Cuomo added in comments to WCBS 880. “Everybody wants to know exactly what happened, so that if something can be corrected, we do correct it.”
A view of the front train car showed where the electrified third rail went through the vehicle, and then into the first car of the commuter train — setting everything ablaze.
Bodies were so badly mangled that emergency workers first thought there were seven fatalities — until the Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office told them there were just six people killed.
“This is the worst in my history. I’ve been doing this 10 years, 11 years. It’s the worst scene I’ve been to,” one EMS worker said.
Hundreds of commuters in the trailing cars realized the horror upfront, only when they were evacuated.
At the railroad crossing where the incident happened, the gates remained down late Wednesday afternoon. Lights continued to flash as investigators worked through the wreckage.
National Transportation Safety Board board member Robert Sumwalt said experts in areas of signals, crossing gates, medical records, data recorders, emergency response, tracks, highway factors, fire science and mechanics will investigate.