CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A research scientist from Chappaqua has been identified as the final victim of the six people who were killed when a Metro-North train hit an SUV stopped on the tracks at a railroad crossing.
Robert Dirks, 36, died during the fiery crash Tuesday evening in Valhalla. He was a scientist at D.E. Shaw Research in Manhattan.
His company’s website said he worked in the “development of novel computational chemistry methods,” but his father told The New York Times his son had an easier way to describe his complex job. “He used to say, ‘Dad, just say I’m a scientist, then they can understand.”
Dirks was married and the father of two young children. His wife had formerly worked at D.E. Shaw.
Among the other victims was Ellen Brody, the SUV’s driver. She worked at ICD Jewelry in Chappaqua and helped found a student news network in her town and was involved in almost everything at her synagogue, friends and her rabbi said.
“I cannot even believe that she’s gone,” said Brody’s friend, Varda Singer. “I think I’m still in denial.”
The 49-year-old mother of three from Edgemont was mindful of safety, said Paul Feiner, a longtime friend and the town supervisor in Greenburgh, a community near the crash site.
She was not “somebody who was careless, not risky when it came to her safety or others,” he said.
Brody had been making plans to celebrate her 50th birthday last month, friends said.
“All of Edgemont is grieving,” Bob Bernstein, president of the Edgemont Community Council, told 1010 WINS. “We’re a small, close-knit community. We want first and foremost to respect the family’s privacy as they grieve.”
Brody and her husband, author and journalist Alan Brody, had three daughters in their teens and 20s. They’ve been active in Chabad of the Rivertowns throughout the synagogue’s 12 years, where she was “definitely the connector” who helped create camaraderie, Rabbi Benjy Silverman said.
“She was passionate about Judaism, she was passionate about her kids, and she did a great job of fulfilling the values that were important to her,” he said.
“She had this infectious smile, so whenever she walked in right away, she brought this beautiful energy into the room and she made everyone feel comfortable here,” Rabbi Benji Silverman told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.
Silverman said he’s as shocked and puzzled as everyone else about the accident and has been trying to comfort the family at the Edgemont home.
“Very difficult to see the three girls, who adored their mother so much, to watch what they’re going through right now. They’re a very close family…it’s the ideal family,” Silverman said.
Hundreds are expected to pack into the small sanctuary Friday morning for Brody’s funeral, Diamond reported.
Walter Liedtke, 69, was killed onboard the train on his way home to Bedford Hills. During his 35 years as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Liedtke gave millions of visitors a window on legends.
Liedtke was featured on CBS2 in 2006 among the paintings that were his passion.
He organized dozens of major exhibitions that featured the works of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals and other renowned artists, and wrote dozens of articles and books, from 1982’s “Architectural Painting in Delft” to 2008’s “Vermeer: The Complete Paintings.”
“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,” the museum said in a statement.
Eric Vandercar of Bedford spent his career in finance and a lot of his free time in the freewheeling world of jam-band fans.
Vandercar, 53, worked at Morgan Stanley for 27 years before moving to Mesirow Financial last March, according to Mesirow. He was a senior managing director in the Chicago-based firm’s institutional sales and trading office in New York.
“Eric was not only a pillar in our industry, he was a great partner and friend to many,” Mesirow said in a statement.
A married father, Vandercar was a familiar figure among jam band aficionados who make and circulate live-show recordings, generally with the bands’ approval.
Joseph Nadol, 42 of Newcastle, was a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive.
He was a managing director and analyst who covered the aerospace and defense industries. He joined JPMorgan in 2001 after five years at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.
“Our thoughts and support are with Joe’s family during this difficult time,” the company said in a statement.
Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury, Connecticut, worked in asset management at JPMorgan in New York City. He was born in India and was married, with no children.
CBS2’s Lou Young reported Tomar’s family spent Tuesday night believing he had survived the crash and had been taken to Westchester Medical Center.
“Somebody there, the security guard, said ‘He’s fine, he’s ongoing X-rays,’ so we came home and were going to visit at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Tomar’s mother-in-law, Dee Persaud, said.
Tomar had a ticket from Grand Central to Brewster, where he left his car Wednesday morning, but the medical examiner requested dental records and the family began to think about the last time they had heard from him.
“They were texting back-and-forth at 5:45, he had told her ‘I’ll be home soon.’ At 6:10, they were deciding what they were going to do, then no more text. We were all praying that they were going to say ‘You know what, it’s not him,’” Pesaud said.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said he spoke with Tomar’s wife to offer his condolences and assistance to his survivors.
“We really ask that people give the family an opportunity to mourn the loss and their privacy during this time, and certainly we’ll be there to support them again as they go through this process,” Boughton told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
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