Review Category : National News

Metro-North Tragedy: How the Most Fatal Train Crash in Its History Unfolded

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — The fatal train crash in suburban New York unfolded in the middle of the evening rush hour as hundreds of people were headed home.

The Metro-North crash, which left six people dead and more than a dozen others hospitalized with injuries, is under investigation — but a timeline of the accident has started to emerge.

Here is what happened:

Tuesday, Feb. 3

5:44 p.m.

A Metro-North Railroad train departs from Grand Central Station on the Harlem line, which cuts through the center of Westchester County. About 700 passengers were believed to be on board.

6:33 p.m.

The crash occurred about 45 minutes into the journey, near the town of Valhalla, which is 20 miles north of New York City.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority confirmed the time of the crash as 6:33 p.m.

The crash came when the train slammed into a Jeep SUV that was on the tracks at the Commerce Street grade crossing.

The circumstances of the collision remain at the center of the investigation.

The SUV wrapped around the front of the train and was driven 400 feet down the track, dislodging the electrified third rail. The rail went through the SUV, punctured the gas tank causing an explosion, and then came through the floor of the train behind the motorman’s compartment.

“You had a metal rail going right down the train like a ramrod,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told ABC News Radio Wednesday morning. “That’s what caused massive destruction.”

“This was as ugly as anything I have ever seen,” he said.

Passengers began evacuating the train, and the worst of the destruction appeared limited to the first train car.

“I saw flames coming at me, about a foot from my head,” passenger Christopher Gross told ABC News this morning.

7:13 p.m.

Metro-North announced via Twitter that it was suspending all train service between North White Plains and Pleasantville, New York, as a result of the accident.

Three hours later, it announced that all northbound Harlem line trains out of Grand Central would stop at North White Plains.

10:12 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it would be sending a go-team of investigators from its Washington, D.C., headquarters to New York to survey the scene.

This Morning

MTA officials confirmed to ABC News that the driver of the train was expected to survive after being held overnight in the hospital.

After Cuomo announced earlier that there had been seven fatalities, officials revised the number of fatalities down to six — five train passengers and the driver of the SUV, most of them said to be burned beyond recognition. There were 15 other passengers who are being treated for injuries.

Victims’ families were meeting at the medical examiner’s office Wednesday morning to attempt to make the final identifications.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

WATCH: Coast Guard Rescues Dog in Icy Michigan Waters

Oliver Art Center(FRANKFORT, Mich.) — A Coast Guard ice rescue crew saved a dog after spotting it jumping into icy waters near Frankfort, Michigan.

Coast Guard members happened to look through a window and see a Labrador jump into Lake Betsie, connected to Lake Michigan, on Tuesday around 10 a.m., Petty Officer Tim Putnam told ABC News Wednesday.

Putnam and an ice rescue crew then rushed to get into their dry suits and help the dog, he said.

The 20-minute rescue, caught on video, was “exhausting and difficult,” Putnam said. “There were a lot of heavy chunks and plates of ice I had to move around to get to the dog, who seemed shook up and shivering.”

The rest of the rescue team pulled the dog in using a line and dried it off, he said.

The Labrador, later found out to be named Bailey, was transported to Benzie County Animal Shelter, where she was examined and cared for.

“The doctor said was she very fortunate to be alive and OK, because she didn’t have much time,” Putnam said.

Bailey’s owner was later found after a search, he added.

“The owner saw her dog early in the morning, and then it was just gone,” Putnam said. “We discovered the dog traveled over eight miles to the lake.”

The Coast Guard cautioned that people should not to try and go into icy waters themselves if a person or animal is stranded, but should call the Coast Guard.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Metro-North Passenger Recounts Panic, Horror After Deadly Crash

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Christopher Gross was watching a Mel Brooks movie on his laptop during his commute Tuesday, sitting in the front car of the northbound Metro-North train, when he felt the impact.

Flames soon engulfed the train.

“I saw flames coming at me, about a foot from my head,” Gross said Wednesday morning of the fatal accident involving the New York commuter train and an SUV, which resulted in six deaths and numerous injuries.

Many of the victims were commuters, with the ensuing fire magnified by an electrified third rail of the track buckling and piercing the train car where Gross, who was uninjured, was sitting.

A man sitting nearby screamed, Gross told ABC News of the Westchester County collision. The lower section of the man’s leg was gone.

Multiple passengers in Gross’ train car died in the accident and aftermath, authorities said. Many others were seriously injured.

One injured man helped to lead fellow passengers out of the train car, Gross said.

“Both of his hands were burned, he elbowed the emergency exit latch and started to pull the door open,” Gross said.

After the man exited the train, he stuck his hands in the snow, Gross said.

Gross didn’t initially realize that the train had struck a vehicle.

“Neither the engineer or the conductor got over the speaker and said that we’d hit a car,” he said. “I had no idea until I got off and turned around and saw a car.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Report: Lance Armstrong Had Girlfriend Take the Blame for Auto Accident

Alex Wong/Getty Images(ASPEN, Colo.) — Lance Armstrong’s ruined legacy has apparently got a little more tarnished after it was revealed that he allegedly let his girlfriend take the rap for a car accident in Aspen, Colorado, last December in which police now say the disgraced cyclist was actually driving.

The Aspen Daily News reports that Anna Hansen first told cops that she was behind the wheel of Armstrong’s GMC Yukon when it struck two parked cars, doing damage to both.

The couple had been returning from a pre-New Year’s Eve party at the time of the accident.

However, upon further investigation, police got Hansen to admit that it was Armstrong, who had “a little bit to drink,” in the driver’s seat although she insisted it was the couple’s decision for her to take the heat and that Armstrong was not intoxicated.

Armstrong, stripped of his seven Tour de France championships after lying about steroid use, has retained an attorney.

Last week, he told the BBC he deserves to be forgiven for taking illegal drugs and wants his lifetime suspension lifted so he can cycle professionally again.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Metro-North Tragedy: Deadly Train-SUV Collision a ‘Reminder of How Precious Life Is’

Courtesy Justin Kaback

(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — At least seven people were killed when a crowded Metro-North commuter train hit a vehicle on the tracks north of White Plains, New York, Tuesday, sparking a fire that gutted the lead car of the train, officials said.

Among the dead were at least six passengers on the rush-hour train and the driver of a black Jeep Cherokee that was struck and pushed about 400 feet, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials said in a late-night news conference. Cuomo said the electrified third rail of the track buckled and pierced the front train car.

“You have seven people who started out today going about their business who won’t be making it home tonight. It’s a reminder of how precious life is,” Cuomo said.

The National Transportation Safety Board launched a go-team to investigate the accident, which is the deadliest tragedy in the history of the railroad.

Angelo Ortiz, one of the first paramedics on the scene, had trouble putting the accident into context hours later.

“What I first saw was the glow of the fire down the road. And as I approached I was in disbelief when I saw the fire was coming from the car that was completely engulfed. When I knew it was the train that was on fire as well, that’s when I realized that this is probably the worst tragedy I’ve ever responded to,” Ortiz said.

“It was incredibly, just very tragic, that’s all I can say. I’m still in disbelief,” he said.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said he’ll never forget what he saw in that front train car.

“It must have been an absolutely horrific scene when that first happened. I am amazed that anyone got off that train,” Astorino said at Tuesday’s press conference.

Based on eyewitness accounts, the MTA said the gates at the railway crossing came down on top of the SUV, which was stopped on the tracks. The driver apparently got out to look at the rear of the car, then got back in and drove forward when the SUV was struck.

A driver who said he saw the train hit the SUV, Rick Hope, described the incident in the same way.

“She looked very calm and she was taking what I thought was an awful long time because I’m thinking, ‘The clock is ticking here.’ The lights are flashing. The gate’s down. You don’t have much time,” Hope told ABC News.

More than 750 passengers were estimated to be on board the train. Following the accident, they were evacuated to the back of the Harlem Line train and then taken to a local rock-climbing gym, The Cliffs, for shelter while buses were sent to bring them to Pleasantville, a stop further up north.

One of the train passengers, Justin Kaback, was commuting home to Danbury, Connecticut Tuesday evening.

“I was trapped. You know there was people in front of me and behind me and I was trapped in the middle of a car and it was getting very hot,” he told ABC News. “All the air was turned off so there was no circulation so it was definitely scary especially when people are walking by on the outside and they said, the train’s on fire, there’s a fire.”

The train left New York’s Grand Central Station at 5:44 p.m. and the collision occurred at 7:08 p.m. ET.

Aerial video of the scene showed the head car of the train in flames and at least one vehicle crushed beneath it. The vehicle was struck at the Commerce Street grade crossing in Hawthorne, New York.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

At Least Seven Dead in Metro-North Train Collision, Fire

Courtesy Justin Kaback(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — At least seven people were killed when a crowded Metro-North commuter train hit a vehicle on the tracks north of White Plains, New York, Tuesday night, sparking a fire that gutted the lead car of the train, officials said.

Among the dead were at least six passengers on the train and the driver of the black Jeep Cherokee that was struck and dragged at about ten car lengths, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials said late Tuesday evening.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the gates came down on top of the SUV at the crossing, which was stopped on the tracks. The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, then she got back in and drove forward and was struck.

A driver who said he saw the train hit the car described the incident in the same way.

“The gate came down and hit the back of the car in front of me, it was an SUV and it caught the roof, it bounced off the roof, and then slid a little bit behind the back window,” Rick Hope said.

Passengers were evacuated to the back of the Harlem Line train, then were taken to a local rock-climbing gym for shelter, the Cliffs. Buses were en route there to get them to Pleasantville, a spokesperson for the railroad said.

At least 12 other passengers were injured and taken to area hospitals. The train left New York’s Grand Central Station at 5:44 p.m., and the collision occurred at 7:08 p.m. ET.

Aerial video of the scene showed the head car of the train in flames and at least one vehicle crushed beneath it. The vehicle was struck at the Commerce St. grade crossing in Hawthorne.

Harlem Line Service was temporarily suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville, the railroad tweeted.

More than 750 passengers were estimated to be on board, including Justin Kaback, commuting home to Danbury, Connecticut.

“I was trapped. You know, there was people in front of me and behind me and I was trapped in the middle of a car and it was getting very hot,” he told ABC News. “All the air was turned off so there was no circulation so it was definitely scary, especially when people are walking by on the outside and they said, the train’s on fire, there’s a fire.”

My deepest appreciation goes out to the first responders for their efforts on the scene at the @MetroNorth crash. pic.twitter.com/V5CQ84WryA

— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) February 4, 2015

The National Transportation Safety Board in November issued a special investigation report on five Metro-North Railroad accidents between May 2013 and March 2014 that killed a total of six people and injured 126. They found “safety management problems” in all the accidents.

“Metro-North and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have much work yet to do,” NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart said in a statement at the time. “The FRA has much work to do as well. Railroad safety across the country depends on the FRA turning decisively to the task.”

Metro-North safety programs that were in place were not effectively used to manage the safety of its operations and employees, the NTSB said. And, Metro-North did not effectively investigate accidents and incidents to identify and fix safety deficiencies while known deficiencies were not corrected.

A December 2013 derailment in the Bronx killed four people on the railroad, which is the second-busiest commuter line in the country behind the Long Island Railroad.

The NTSB tweeted on Tuesday night that it was launching a team to investigate the deadly crash.

NTSB launching go team to investigate Metro North crash this evening in Westchester County NY

— NTSB (@NTSB) February 4, 2015

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Six Dead in Metro-North Train-Car Collision, Fire

Courtesy Justin Kaback(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — At least six people are dead after a crowded Metro-North commuter train hit at least one vehicle on the tracks north of White Plains, New York, Tuesday night, sparking a fire that gutted at least one car of the train, according to the MTA.

Passengers were evacuated to the back of the Harlem Line train, a spokesperson for the railroad said. It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the crash.

There were at least 12 injuries reported, according to officials.

Aerial video of the scene showed the head car of the train in flames and at least one vehicle crushed beneath it. The vehicle was struck at the Commerce St. grade crossing in Hawthorne shortly after 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

More than 750 passengers were estimated to be on board, including Justin Kaback, commuting home to Danbury, Connecticut.

“I was trapped. You know, there was people in front of me and behind me and I was trapped in the middle of a car and it was getting very hot,” he told ABC News. “All the air was turned off so there was no circulation so it was definitely scary, especially when people are walking by on the outside and they said, the train’s on fire, there’s a fire.”

Harlem Line Service was temporarily suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville, the railroad tweeted.

Harlem Line Service is temporarily suspended btwn N White Plains & Pleasantville due to a train striking a motor vehicle near Valhalla.

— Metro-North Railroad (@MetroNorth) February 4, 2015

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Revenge-Porn Website Operator Convicted

psphotograph/iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — A California man has become the first person to be convicted for running a revenge-porn website that impacted the lives of many women.

Kevin Bollaert could receive up to 20 years in prison for running the website UGotPosted.com after he was found guilty by a jury on Monday.

The site allowed users to post nude pictures of their ex-lovers, and then prosecutors say he would charge victims to take down the photos.

“The postings included the victims’ names, their full names, the cities in which they lived, their Facebook profile links, and other personal information,” California Attorney General Kamala Harris said on Tuesday.

Bollaert is expected to be sentenced in April.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Six Dead in Metro-North Train-Car Collision, Fire

Courtesy Justin Kaback(VALHALLA, N.Y.) — At least six people are dead after a crowded Metro-North commuter train hit at least one vehicle on the tracks north of White Plains, New York, Tuesday night, sparking a fire that gutted at least one car of the train, according to the MTA.

Passengers were evacuated to the back of the Harlem Line train, a spokesperson for the railroad said. It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the crash.

There were at least 12 injuries reported, according to officials.

Aerial video of the scene showed the head car of the train in flames and at least one vehicle crushed beneath it. The vehicle was struck at the Commerce St. grade crossing in Hawthorne shortly after 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

More than 750 passengers were estimated to be on board, including Justin Kaback, commuting home to Danbury, Connecticut.

“I was trapped. You know, there was people in front of me and behind me and I was trapped in the middle of a car and it was getting very hot,” he told ABC News. “All the air was turned off so there was no circulation so it was definitely scary, especially when people are walking by on the outside and they said, the train’s on fire, there’s a fire.”

Harlem Line Service was temporarily suspended between North White Plains and Pleasantville, the railroad tweeted.

Harlem Line Service is temporarily suspended btwn N White Plains & Pleasantville due to a train striking a motor vehicle near Valhalla.

— Metro-North Railroad (@MetroNorth) February 4, 2015

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

How a College Art Project Shut Down an Atlanta Highway

alexandragl1/iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A college art project was the cause of a “suspicious package” report that closed a major highway in Atlanta on Monday.

The package was actually a camera mounted on a bridge, Georgia State University said on Tuesday.

“We sincerely apologize for the traffic problems resulting yesterday from the mounting of a student camera at the 14th St. Bridge. The camera was one of 18 used by students in an art project and deployed at various locations in the city,” the school said in a statement. “Georgia State Police are closely cooperating with the Atlanta Police Department in the removal of all of the cameras.”

Confirmed:suspicious device that shut down downtown connector one of 18 for @GeorigaStateU photography project #wsbtv pic.twitter.com/qA8Vcju2f9

— Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) February 3, 2015

2nd device @GeorgiaStateU now says were part of photo project. One shut down Connector yesterday. 18 in all #wsbtv pic.twitter.com/pOtBoOYuXD

— Aaron Diamant (@AaronDiamantWSB) February 3, 2015

The Georgia Department of Transportation reported on Monday that 14th Street closed between Techwood Dr. and West Peachtree St. and I-75/85 closed north and southbound at 14th Street after the suspicious package was reported. The ramps to 14th from I-75/85 in both directions were also closed.

All lanes of travel were reopened several hours later Monday afternoon and the scene was “rendered all clear,” Atlanta police told ABC News, but the closure still caused extreme traffic ahead of the evening rush hour.

They’re turning folks around and sending them off the highway. @Atlanta_Traffic pic.twitter.com/ld7F8wPjWv

— Erika (@ErikaBirg) February 2, 2015

People are turning around, backing up, doing whatever they can to get off the highway #atltraffic pic.twitter.com/EISo2PVYmX

— Erika (@ErikaBirg) February 2, 2015

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →