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3 dead after two trains crash into vehicle on Long Island

Officials say the vehicle was trying to get around the crossing gates when it was struck by trains going in opposite directions.
Image: Emergency personnel look over a train that derailed after striking a vehicle in Westbury
Emergency personnel look over a train that derailed after striking a vehicle in Westbury, N.Y., on Feb. 27, 2019.Seth Wenig / AP

Three people in a vehicle were killed when it was struck by two trains traveling in opposite directions in Westbury on New York's Long Island on Tuesday.

The vehicle was “trying to beat the gate” when it was hit by an eastbound train pulling out of the Westbury station just before 7:30 p.m., Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference Tuesday night. A westbound train then hit the vehicle as well.

A witness told police the vehicle may have been involved in "a minor accident" moments before it was hit by the trains, Ryder said at a news conference Wednesday at the Nassau University Medical Center, where seven passengers from the trains were treated for injuries.

That claim is under investigation, Ryder said.

The vehicle was so mangled that investigators could not immediately identify its make, authorities said. The identification of the driver and the vehicle's two other occupants is still pending, Ryder said.

Damage inside a LIRR train involved in the crash on the Westbury line on Feb. 26, 2019.NBC 4

About 200 people were on the eastbound train headed, and about 800 on the westbound train, officials said.

Main Line service of the Long Island Rail Road was suspended Tuesday night as investigators surveyed the damage and tried to find out the cause of the collision.

Eastbound service on some branches of the commuter rail line was suspended Wednesday and westbound service limited.

Emergency personnel work at a LIRR crash site in Westbury. Long Island on Feb 26, 2019.NBC News

"As we continue to gather information surrounding the incident, my heart goes out to the victims and their loved ones," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday night. "In the wake of this tragedy, I am calling for a full investigation into the collision, including with the complete cooperation of the MTA, State Police, local law enforcement and the NTSB."