VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It has been one year since a Metro-North Railroad train crashed into an SUV in Valhalla, killing six people.
On Feb. 3, 2015, a Harlem line train collided with Ellen Brody‘s Mercedes Benz SUV, which was sitting on the tracks in the Commerce Street grade crossing. Brody and five passengers in the lead train car were killed.
Following the crash, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority identified 20 high-risk grade crossings for a safety evaluation and the agency is planning to perform a three-year systemwide review.
“There’s about 400 railroad crossings across the Metro-North and Long Island railroad systems and we are looking to prioritize those that need to have a special safety risk assessment done,” spokesman Aaron Donovan told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “To evaluate the layout and the physical structure of the railroad crossings.”
A preliminary investigation found the gates and signals to be working at the Commerce Street crossing.
The town of Mount Pleasant has considered closing the crossing, but Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi is waiting for recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is still investigating the crash.
“There are those who are concerned about closing the crossing, some are pro and some are against it,” Fulgenzi said. “If a recommendation comes down from them to our town engineer then we would have to address it.”
As a general rule, the MTA supports closing grade crossings.
“These crossings do present a risk,” Donovan said. “They present an operational challenge to us and if there is fewer of those that exist, the better.”
Since the accident, the federal government has committed $350 million for grade crossing improvements and another $6.5 million for a public awareness campaign, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported earlier this week.
“The memory of that image has been a reminder for the past year that we absolutely must improve the safety of rail crossings in our communities,” Rep. Nita Lowey, D-Westchester/Rockland, told reporters in a conference call. “We must continue working together to ensure these horrific crashes don’t devastate more lives.”
The Valhalla community gather together for a vigil at Town Hall Wednesday night, to remember those lost in a deadly Metro-North crash.
At Wednesday’s vigil, the names of the six victims were read aloud, followed by a bell in remembrance, 1010 WINS Darius Radzius reported.
Ellen Brody, the SUV driver; Walter Liedtke, a curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Eric Vandercar, 53, a senior managing director at Mesirow Financial; Joseph Nadol, 42, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive; Aditya Tomar, 41, who worked in asset management at JPMorgan; and Robert Dirks, 36, a research scientist at D.E. Shaw Research in Manhattan, were killed.
All six suffered blunt-force injuries and burns, a medical examiner said.
Fulgenzi, who had only been in office for five months at the time of the crash, said that nothing prepares you enough to handle such a devastating event.
“The community really came together, and it showed what’s really good about the Mount Pleasant people,” Fulgenzi said.
Meanwhile, Brody’s husband has filed a lawsuit against the railroad, the state, Westchester Coutny and the Town of Mount Pleasant for negligence and wrongful death.
It was the deadliest crash in Metro-North history.