FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Long Island Rail Road service is running again after a tractor-trailer rig was struck by a train during Tuesday evening’s commute.
The Ronkonkoma branch service was suspended between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma in both directions after a the truck was struck by a packed commuter train at the Merrits Road grade crossing around 5:45 p.m.
Witnesses describe the truck as being stuck on the tracks as the crossing gate started to come down. While the truck driver tried to back up, the rig was blocked from behind by cars that would not back up.
Farmingdale fire officials say the rig’s driver jumped clear just seconds before impact.
“We heard the horn from the truck blowing and just saying ‘Oh why doesn’t he back up?'” said witness Donna Gellineau. “Before we knew it we heard the signal from the train and the ‘ding ding ding ding’ and the train just came barreling right into the truck, and I couldn’t even look away. It was almost like am I really seeing this?”
Officials say no one was hurt.
“Normally when you have a train versus any type of vehicle, the vehicles don’t win,” said Farmingdale Fire Department Chief Michael DiBartolo. “Normally the train conductor either gets seriously hurt and the operator of the vehicle normally gets seriously hurt, or killed as well. So we’re very fortunate that only the two people who basically in charge of the whole thing refused medical attention.”
Initial Reports From The Aftermath Scene
Passengers on the train said they barely felt anything. There was an announcement the train had “nicked” a vehicle, but there was no rattling on the train. While some commuters were angry about the delay, there were no reported injuries.
The damaged train was allowed to continue with passengers on to Farmingdale while those bound for Ronkonkoma transferred to a rescue train.
Commuters were told expect residual delays averaging 15 minutes as trains operate at reduced speeds through the area.