Rant Because Of Senseless Tragedy

Hytec Feb 4, 2015

  1. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    My rant is about stupid auto drivers.

    The driver in the following article passed under closing gates which hit the car. The driver stopped, got out to inspect the damage, then got back in the car and pulled onto the tracks. By this time both gates were down. Read about the result.

    Different tragedy, but the same stupidity with the same results. A few years ago two vehicles accompanying each other were approaching a CSX mainline crossing. The first vehicle ignored the flashing lights and crossed the tracks. The second vehicle blindly followed the first and was struck broadside by a 50 mph freight.

    Sadly, many people no longer take responsibility for their actions, if they even know how to.....arrgh!

    Metro-North grade crossing collision, fire leaves six dead
    Trains Online Newswire, February 4, 2015

    NEW YORK – A train of Metro-North electric multiple-unit cars struck a sport utility vehicle in Valhalla at the height of evening rush Tuesday evening, causing the lead car to catch fire, killing at least six people. The dead included the vehicle driver and five passengers, the New York Times reports. It was the worst accident in Metro-North history and follows a derailment in 2013 on the Hudson Line in the Bronx that left four passengers dead.

    The train was northbound on the Harlem Line when the lead car, M-7 No. 4333, struck the vehicle at the Commerce Street crossing at about 6:30 p.m., Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority tells the Times. The trains are powered by a 750-volt D.C. third rail.

    The train, which was running non-stop to Chappaqua, pushed the vehicle about 10 train car lengths north of the crossing, and the vehicle and the first two cars on the train caught fire.

    In addition to the dead, 15 people are being treated at area hospitals. The engineer was among the injured. About 800 people were reported to be on the train at the time of the incident.

    Passengers were evacuated through the rear of the train. About 400 of them were taken to a local rock-climbing gym for shelter Tuesday night, Donovan says.

    According to preliminary information, the gates at the crossing came down on top of the vehicle, which had stopped on the tracks, Donovan says. The driver got out of the vehicle to look at the rear of the car, then got back in and drove forward. Then the vehicle was struck.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation team from Washington to investigate the incident. The team is expected to remain on scene for five to seven days, with the full investigation taking about a year.

    James E. Hall, a former chairman of the NTSB, says he expects investigators to consider whether gasoline escaping from the vehicle had set the rail car on fire. He says it is unusual for a passenger car to burst into flames in a crash, but he adds that “anytime you have friction in an accident there’s a possibility of flammability.”

    Passengers from a Metro-North train at Pleasantville board shuttle buses to North White Plains to make train connections to Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday.

    Service on the Harlem line was suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville on Tuesday night. The train left Grand Central around 5:45 p.m. and was running express, Donovan says.

    "The train cars cannot be removed until the on-scene investigation is complete, and they will need to be removed before service can be restored," the agency is telling its passengers. "Regular service through this area is not expected to resume until a full investigation is complete, the infrastructure is fully assessed, and repairs are made."

    Metro-North train service will remain suspended between Pleasantville and North White Plains until further notice. There will be limited bus/train service for Upper Harlem Line customers beginning with morning rush hour service on Wednesday and until further notice.

    Harlem Line tickets will be cross honored on the Hudson and New Haven lines. Westchester County has made parking available on a first-come, first-served basis – up to 300 spaces at County Center near White Plains station and up to 50 spaces at the North White Plains station.

    Steve Glischinski and Mike Michaels contributed to this report.
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I have seen several brief news articles. At least one was written as if the train/railroad had the accident. I don't understand what is wrong with people these days. Why the disconnect between crossing gates coming down, and not figuring out a train was coming? We need to get back to what was done when I was in grade school. Safety films of all kinds, including railroad dangers to vehicles and human bodies which are where they should not be..... :(
  3. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    From what I have heard the woman driving the SUV was in bumper to bumper traffic and pulled forward up to the tracks when she could not go any farther. The barrier came down behind her and hit the back of her car while she was stopped. She got out of her car and tried to raise the gate. Then she went back into her car and tried to maneuver forward rather than try to break thru the wooden barrier behind her. I have always been told "If you don't fit, don't commit." Stay behind the line where the gate comes down unless you can make it all the way across and beyond the crossing.
  4. BnOEngrRick

    BnOEngrRick TrainBoard Member

    Most, if not all, crossing gates are constructed of aluminum or fiberglass. They also have either a springing mechanism or shear pins to prevent damage to the gates if struck.
  5. Jeepy84

    Jeepy84 TrainBoard Member

    I've been reading Death By Train published by the Bradford Landmark and Historical Society that my fiancée got for me for Christmas. Times may change, but the story stays the same it seems.

    Sent from the magical mystery box
  6. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

    Excellent details and news reporting..But, where is the 'rant'; the one sentence which ends with 'arrgh !' ? !! I think as train lovers we would never cause this type of accident. Even with the gates up I still go slower here and look both ways. Except, I always hope a train is coming, since childhood ! Not to mention the fact that I/we would know not to stay in the car if it is going to be hit ! Why do these people stay in their car at this point, when they're trapped by other traffic ? ! ! .. Tragic that the train will collide, but why not save your own life at least ? And, you'd be alive to tell the story of what happened with your car....What, do people actually think a speeding train can stop in 50 feet ? !! I'll never understand the stupidity here !! ....... Related: I have never seen so many plane crashes with in 3-4 months ! I hate planes. It's too big a gamble ! And don't remind me that it's safer than driving. That's true if you're a bad driver ! I'm not too big on the ultra modern duck billed platypus looks of bullet type trains and those hideous looking outside brake rotors..BUT ! I hope the whole country builds bullet trains. They're less time consuming than planes and thus will get us there nearly as soon as planes, cheaper, and somehow I like being on, not above mother earth when I'm traveling....... That's my rant ! ....... Mark
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2015
  7. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

    This article provides more information, though still the opinions of witnesses, nothing conclusive. I'm sorry for the loss to her family, but this does not excuse or explain why people ignore their surroundings and are unaware of the hazards around them.
  8. offshore

    offshore TrainBoard Member

    I heard the women was driving a Mercedes SUV, she was probably pissed at the RR for damaging her car with the crossing gate.
  9. fordman91b

    fordman91b TrainBoard Member

    I found this on YouTube . its a close call between a car and the Potomac eagle in west Virginia. There isn't any crossing gates but the lights were flashing for a minute.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2015
  10. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

  11. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Jeep Grand Cherokee but same attitude. I only feel for the people who lost their life and were injured on the train and the train crew. They must pay for her arrogance and stupidity. Call me heartless, but this country has made too many a martyr from imbeciles already.
    wpsnts likes this.
  12. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    Agree on that.
  13. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    As most of you know this retired mortician has sounded off many times with regard to threads like this. There is nothing pretty or heroic going on here and stupidity comes to mind. I've heard myself saying out loud at such incidents "How senseless this is and how stupid." Trains have been around for a long time and it seems every generation has to learn......all over again the consequences of getting out in front of one them at the wrong time.

    I also have family that worked for the railroads and I know from their perspective how they felt about incidents like the two mentioned here. The emotional pain they feel is impossible to explain. Then there is the fine folk with the various emergency agencies that respond to scenes where some driver pulled in front of a moving train. And finally from the inside of a family who has lost someone to the foolishness of trying to beat a train. Everyone ends up hurting emotionally at a time like this. Sadly, the one who needed to learn a lesson or two is put away amid tears and the feeling of lose is overwhelming but only for those left behind. You guessed it inevitability the train gets blamed. Senseless!

    Realizing that guns aren't the only weapons we should be careful with and knowing a vehicle of any type has the potential to kill you is paramount.

    I've walked the tracks for a mile after such a train accident to pick-up what remained of someone's loved one. I don't know! There is no way I can convey to you what that feels like. Senseless and other adjectives just don't get the job done.

    Darwin award comes to mind but usually it's to late to present it. Sad!
  14. natsb

    natsb TrainBoard Member

    On the way home from the GSMTS train show in Timonium last weekend (in which I found some great deals), I was stuck in the usual after show traffic. When I came to the RR crossing I did my usual slow down in case a train comes by and I get "stuck" watching it go by nice and close. Since a gap opened up on the other side of the tracks, I pulled forward. Imagine my horror when the car behind me followed and stopped right on the tracks. Two adults in the front seat, and two kids in the back seat with nowhere to go if a train had come. That was one of those rare situations where I had the urge to slap a driver upside his head.

    On another note, I have been involved in a train/car accident. Just an unlucky combination of icy road, a hill, and an oncoming train. The bad news was that the ice caused me to slide into the train. The good news is that the ice slid me back onto the road after the collision. When the ambulance showed up, the driver took a look at my car, looked around, then asked if anyone saw where the body went.
  15. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    People don't seem to realize that trains not only exist (they do when they complain about horns), but are not capable of stopping on a dime. Crossings are inherently dangerous, but people just seem to be in a hurry or have some other agenda. It's not possible to fix stupid.
  16. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

    The more I read about this the more fishy it seems. She gets back into her car, ignores the man making room behind her. She looks at the on coming train and calmly drives onto the middle of the tracks. Doesn't sound dumb to me. It sounds like suicide.
  17. Switchman

    Switchman TrainBoard Member

    I do not cross the tracks if I don't have room to clear them. I have also taught my wife and children the same thing.
    Most of us know you can't win against a Locomotive.
    See ya
  18. badlandnp

    badlandnp TrainBoard Member

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Sad part is the left behinds, the sorrow of the fam and friends. The bystanders and first respionders. The train crew who may have kept their eyes open after laying into the brakes and such. Hopelessly wishong they could stop.

    End result, stupid people weeded out. Innocent folk who may have just been riding with them and suffered the same fate.

    Train crews end up hardheartedly deciding that the stupid people deserved it.

  19. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

    As a retired railroader, with both engineer and conductor seniority, I can speak from experience that a train/vehicle/trespasser incident is not fun. I was the conductor on a stack train that was involved in the suicide of a 24 y/o woman in suburban Chicago. I had to located what remained of her in order to help direct the first responders to the location. I have worked trains that were held due to emergency responders location body parts of suicidal individuals who chose to end their lives by walking in front of a high speed passenger train, It is not a nice thing to see the sheets covering the scattered remains, it's pretty messy! One of the guys in my engineers class was involved in a car/train incident on one of his qualifying runs. He was not running at the time and the train collided with an auto driven by a confused elderly couple who drove their car onto the track and had the wheels locked on the gauge. My colleague had a difficult time dealing with that. He is not a wimp either! He was a high ranking NCO in the National Guard and he and his unit were activated just prior to his completion of qualifying runs and he was sent over to the "sandbox". He got his cert anyway and is currently a hogger in the Chicago area. Suicide is a selfish act and that is the only thing that eases the stress of the situation. The train I was the conductor of was fully compliant, we were operating at track speed and following all instructions. Someone felt their selfish needs too great to deal with so she decided to make life difficult not only for us but for her family and friends. Life goes on,people will somehow want to shorten theirs for whatever reason. Sadly it is one of the risks of the job

  20. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

    Charlie, I understand and respect where you're coming from, you having had to deal with the aftermath of these suicides... but I must take exception to your characterization of the suicidal as being selfish. They aren't. They are very, very, VERY sick. The mind of a suicidally depressed person is a very dark, very messed up place. They usually actually think they are doing the world a favor by ending it all, and while from the outside it may seem that they are being callous toward the people who are left behind to (literally in this case) pick up the pieces, in fact, their mind is so messed up they often think folks will be glad they are gone, if they are missed at all.

    There are those who are being careless, stupid, arrogant, or just have their heads in the wrong place (my hurry is more important than your train), but the suicides are not that.

    All of that said, I have no words suitable for the burden the train crews and first responders must carry in the aftermath of any of these incidents. Truly horrible, and beyond my imagining. I'm quite certain I would crack into a hundred pieces if I had to go through that. How any of you ever climb back into the cab (or the ambulance, fire truck, etc.) is beyond me.

    Your tale of the confused old couple is a truly sad, sad story. I don't have words for that one. Just sad all around.

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