Federal investigators probing the deadly collision of a commuter train and an SUV in the New York suburbs have found no indication that the train was operating abnormally, an official told NBC News on Thursday.
“From all indications at this point, everything was operating normally,” said the official, Robert Sumwalt, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board. Based on preliminary information, he said, “I would certainly say it’s a terrible tragic accident.”
Six people were killed and 12 hospitalized after the commuter train, traveling north from Manhattan, plowed into the SUV, which was on the tracks at a crossing, on Tuesday night.
Sumwalt said that investigators were interviewing the engineer on Thursday. He also said that investigators planned to talk to the driver who was behind the SUV at the crossing. The driver of the SUV was among those killed.
The driver behind the SUV, Rick Hope, told the news site LoHud.com that the crossing gate came down and hit the roof of the SUV, then got stuck on the back.
He said that he backed up to give her room and thought that she would back out of the crossing. Instead, he said, she shifted her car into drive.
Sumwalt said that the train did not have a forward-facing video camera, which would have recorded the moments before the collision. The NTSB has pushed to have those cameras installed on trains, but not all are yet equipped. The crossing also did not have video cameras, he said.
—Tom Costello and Erin McClam