CRIME

Metro-North Train Crash North Of New York Kills 6

02/03/2015 08:18 pm ET | Updated Feb 06, 2015

At least six people were killed and 15 others hospitalized when a commuter train loaded with rush-hour passengers struck at least one vehicle and caught fire north of New York City.

The fiery crash happened Tuesday evening near the town of Valhalla, along Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line. Five passengers and the driver of the vehicle were killed in the collision, officials said. The driver of the car was a woman, according to a Metropolitan Transportation Authority official who spoke to The New York Times.

Authorities initially reported the death count at seven people, but revised it Wednesday morning.

Images from the scene showed a train car in flames.

train crash
Firefighters work at the scene of a train vs car accident at the Commerce Street crossing in Valhalla Feb. 3, 2015. (Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News/lohud.com)

The MTA didn't respond to HuffPost's inquiries, but the crash occurred at 6:30 p.m., when the train hit a black Jeep Cherokee crossing the tracks, according to the Times.

The vehicle stopped when crossing gates came down upon it, according to an NBC News reporter, and the driver got out to inspect for damage. The motorist got back in, drove forward and was hit by the oncoming train, according to NBC.

"It looks like where she stopped she did not want to go on the tracks, but the proximity of the gate to her car, you know, it was dark -- maybe she didn't know she was in front of the gate,” Rick Hope, who said he was in a vehicle directly behind the woman’s SUV and backed up to give her space, told WNYW.

The impact pushed the SUV for the length of 10 train cars, the Associated Press reported.

Service was interrupted on parts of the Harlem Line, according to the MTA, which runs from Manhattan to the Bronx and suburban areas north of the city.

google map

About 750 to 800 passengers were evacuated from the northbound express train, according to ABC News.

Vernon Hodge, 40, of Bedford Hills, was riding in the third car when the train crashed. He told The Huffington Post that there was near panic as passengers surged to the rear cars without any instruction from train operators in the moments immediately after the collision.

“A few seconds after that first impact, the explosion happened. and I felt the shockwave from the explosion," said Hodge. “People almost started to get into a stampede, but it didn’t happen because they realized it wasn’t getting us anywhere."

metro north fire

Some witnesses tweeted about passengers frantically fleeing the train.

A nearby gym temporarily became a makeshift relief center for the evacuated passengers who were offered water, cookies and limited first aid until emergency crews arrived.

"We saw that there were people in need so we opened the doors up," Kary Williams, general manager of the Cliffs at Valhalla said to The Huffington Post. "For what the situation was, I think everyone handled it incredibly from the rescue crews to the victims themselves."

metro north fire 2

There have been several accidents and derailments, some deadly, on Metro North lines since 2013, according to a tally by the Journal News.

Simon McCormack and Carly Schwartz contributed reporting to this article.

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