Survivor Tells Story Of Being Inside Train As It Crashed Into Vehicle: 'I Really Thought I Was Going To Die'


WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Long Island Rail Road says trains were operating at full service on the Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches after Tuesday’s crash that left three dead and several others hurt.

New video from Universal Taxi shows the flash at the moment of impact and then how the LIRR train crashes into the platform, sending smoke shooting out from under it after the deadly crash.

It was one of two trains going in opposite directions that hit an SUV on the tracks.

Passenger Kiwana Hairston was taking the train back to the city after helping her sick grandmother when the crash happened. She was one of seven train passengers to be injured.

“We’re starting to smell fumes and sparks and only thing going through my mind is this is going to explode,” she exclusively told CBS2’s Jessica Moore.

“Not even 10, 15 minutes on the train, I heard this loud explosion – then kinda of a shake, a vibration – and then this huge thrust,” said Hairston. “It literally threw me across from one end of the train car to the other. All I could see was concrete coming in, the seats folded in. One landed on top of my leg.”

“I really thought I was going to die,” she said.

Commuter Ryan Dobrin had just got off the other train.

“I was on the train that right after I got off hit the car up ahead,” Dobrin said. “That’s why I decided to stay home yesterday. I didn’t want to get on a train yesterday knowing how close in proximity I was to what happened.

Thursday, he returned and while waiting for his train watched as MTA crews with a crane worked to repair the impacted rails.

Hours earlier, they removed the damage cars from the the LIRR tracks in Westbury.

“I’m really impressed with how much they’ve done in just a couple of days,” Dobrin said.

Meanwhile, MTA officials continue to investigate what led to the driver’s deadly decision to go around the gate and onto the tracks. A witness told police the car was involved in a minor accident right before.

“We cannot repeat this enough: Please do not try to beat the train,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Seven people on board the train were taken to the hospital with serious internal injuries.

The three people inside the SUV – identified as Jesus Hernandez, Saul Martinez and Miguel Luna – were killed. Surveillance video shows the men arriving for a haircut at a barber shop near the rail crossing, then heading to the bar next door before getting into the vehicle.

Jesus Hernandez, Saul Martinez and Miguel Luna were killed when their SUV was struck by two LIRR trains in Westbury.

The car was left unrecognizable and a grim picture of what many are saying was an avoidable tragedy.

“It’s sad they lost their lives, but at the same time there’s regulations and rules why you don’t cross the tracks,” said Westbury resident Brendan Piper. “It doesn’t make me feel any less safe.”

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