Two people were killed when their car was struck by a Long Island Rail Road train in Brentwood after the car drove around the crossing gate three miles down the track from a where similar incident occurred about two years prior.
The eastbound non-passenger train was heading to the Ronkonkoma yard while traveling at the maximum allowable speed of 80 mph when it hit the 2010 Nissan at the Second Street crossing just west of the station at 10 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.
“At the point of impact, apparently the car burst into flames,” said Sal Arena, an LIRR spokesman, noting that the engineer honked the horn and hit the emergency brakes but couldn’t stop in time. “When it came to a halt, the burning continued.”
MTA police are waiting for Suffolk County medical examiners to complete the victims’ autopsies to confirm the identities of the victims, whose bodies were burned beyond recognition.
The engineer, conductor and assistant conductor aboard the train were not injured. The front of the train was badly burned and the vehicle was partly lodged under the first car.
Brentwood Fire Department firefighters extinguished the flames. MTA police then pulled the victims from the wreckage.
Witnesses told MTA police that they saw the car drive around the gates, which were down with lights flashing at the time, Arena said. He added that computer data has confirmed the accounts of witnesses and LIRR workers that the gates were down at the time.
Service was suspended and buses replaced trains for about five hours between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma while crews repaired a third rail that was damaged in the crash. Service was restored in time for the evening eastbound rush hour commute.
The incident is similar to a May 17, 2011 incident in which a bread delivery truck driver was killed when he tried to beat the train by going around the gate just east of the Deer Park station—the next stop west of the Brentwood station.