Cuomo: ‘Horrendous’ scene at NY Metro-North crash site

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Wednesday that the scene of a fatal crash on his state’s Metro-North commuter railway on Tuesday night was “horrendous.” 

“I was there last night, and I can tell you this, there are a lot of people who heard a lot of different things, which is the nature of the situation like this,” Cuomo said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.” 

“There was no doubt that the train hit something,” Cuomo continued. “I don't know that [passengers] would have known it necessarily was an SUV. But there was no doubt that people knew there was a collision. They could hear that and they knew there was a fire because it was significant smoke coming. Obviously there was a panic confusion in the aftermath. Loud noise, the third rail actually came through the bottom of the train. So it was a horrendous scene.” 

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The accident occurred when a train on Metro-North’s Harlem Line collided with a car that was stranded on its tracks in Valhalla, N.Y., north of New York City. 

The train had left New York’s Grand Central during Monday’s evening rush hour, when it crashed into an SVU. The accident resulted in the death of five people who were on board the train, including the operator, as well as the driver of the car. 

Cuomo said he would have to wait for federal investigators who are en route to scene of the deadly crash to make definitive statements about the cause of the collision. 

“It appears that the SUV went on fire, and that fire then extended to the train,” he said. “So, between the fire and the collision, there was quite a bit of damage in the front end of the train.

“We have about nine very serious injuries,” Cuomo continued. “It's hard to say why the car was on the tracks. And I think we'll wait for a full investigation before that's reached. If there's anything to learn from it, certainly the MTA wants to learn from it.” 

Metro-North had four high-profile accidents in 2013, including a collision of two trains in Connecticut, a freight rail accident in the same area of the track two months later, a crash that killed four people and an unrelated employee fatality. 

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said Wednesday that service was canceled on its Harlem Line between North White Plains and Pleasantville, N.Y. “until further notice” due to the accident investigation in Valhalla. 

“The investigators have a preliminary analysis. This is a situation that there will be a full investigation. There's the equivalent of the black box, and once that is revealed, you'll have an electronic record of exactly what happened.”