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Number Of Fatalities Now Six In Valhalla Train/SUV Collision, Cuomo Says

Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The scene at Commerce Street in Valhalla where a Metro-North train collided with two cars. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Video Credit: breaking911video

This story has been updated.

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- Six people were killed and at least 15 injured early Tuesday evening when an SUV was struck by a Metro-North train north of the Valhalla station near the Commerce Street crossing.

The fatality number of six was downgraded by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday morning from an earlier report of seven by officials Tuesday night. It is the deadliest accident in Metro-North history.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs Metro-North, said in a statement that a black Jeep Cherokee was struck by the express train traveling at around 60 miles per hour at around 6:35 p.m. The train departed Grand Central Station at 5:44 p.m. Its next scheduled stop was Chappaqua.

The Jeep's female drive was killed along with five passengers on the train. At least 10 of the injuries have been classified as serious and two as non life-threatening. The crew on board the train managed to escape unharmed.

The accident took place when rail gates apparently came down on top of the Jeep after it had stopped on the tracks, the MTA said. The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, according to the statement.

The train shoved the SUV about 10 train car lengths north, and the SUV and the front of the train caught fire, said Aaron Donovan, an MTA spokesman.

It was not immediately clear why the SUV had stopped on the tracks.

"The gates came down on top of the vehicle, which was stopped on the tracks," he said in a statement. "The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, then she got back in and drove forward and was stuck."

Numerous police, fire and emergency responders remained on the scene, where a fire broke out after the collision involving the lead car of the train. The collision caused an explosion on impact. The fire appeared to be controlled by 8:30 p.m.

Other cars in the train, which had approximately 750 passengers on board when it departed Grand Central, were evacuated and transit buses were called to the scene to take passengers away, according to reports.

The incident has led to the suspension of Harlem Line service between North White Plains and Pleasantville and the closure of the nearby stretch of the Taconic State Parkway. Northbound traffic is being diverted at Lakeview Avenue. Southbound traffic was exiting onto the Sprain Brook Parkway.

Shuttle buses and vans were used Wednesday to take commuters between North White Plains and Pleasantville stations during the morning commute.

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