(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — The National Transportation Safety Board expects a preliminary investigation will last up to a week at the site of Tuesday’s Metro-North commuter train crash in Valhalla, New York, the deadliest in that railroad’s history.
Five male passengers on the train were killed as was the female driver of the Mercedes SUV that had stopped on the track before the collision. Twelve people were also injured, including one critically.
NTSB vice chairman Robert Sumwalt, who is heading the investigation, said Wednesday that some 400 feet of the electrified third rail sliced through the first car, turning the entire interior into an inferno.
The third rail, which supplies power to the train, began breaking apart in 80-foot segments which started to pile up in the first train car, but a section also went into the second car as well.
According to Sumwalt, NTSB investigators will likely stay in the area for the next five to seven days collecting witness testimony and what he classified as “perishable” evidence, meaning information that may disappear or disintegrate over time.
They have already downloaded the recorders that are in place on the tracks and are calling on witnesses to come forward and share any information they have about the fatal crash.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said that all but one of those killed were charred beyond recognition. By late Wednesday, all of the deceased had been identified.
The driver who died after her SUV was hit by the train was identified as Ellen Brody, a mother of three from Edgemont, New York.
Brody’s Mercedes remained at the scene on the tracks, but NTSB investigators said that they will be moving as much evidence as possible to a storage container in the coming days.
The train passengers who were killed were Walter Liedtke, 69, of Bedford Hills; Eric Vandercar, 53, of Bedford Hills; Joseph B. Nadol III, 42, of Ossining; Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury; and Robert Dirks, 36, of Chappaqua.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told ABC News Radio that “it would be apparently inexplicable” that the SUV driver pulled forward onto the tracks and into the path of the oncoming train, as a witness reported.