Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: rashedmian
Hillary Clinton conceded the presidential election to her bitter rival Donald Trump Wednesday morning, telling supporters gathered at The New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan that the Constitution “enshrines a peaceful transition of power” and offering to work with her opponent on behalf of uniting the country.
Just before noon Clinton emerged publicly for the first time since her election night defeat had become official. She was wearing a black pantsuit with purple lapels—perhaps her own way of demanding that a deeply fractured America of red and blue states come together.
It was a speech that the Clinton camp probably prepared for but never actually anticipated she’d ever have to deliver. In the hours leading up to the election the polls almost unanimously pointed to a Clinton victory—many by large margins, some by more narrow ones. In the end, the majority of these polls were alarmingly wrong, failing to properly grasp the level of discontent among white voters who felt abandoned by the political class.
Standing on stage with her husband, President Bill Clinton, and her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va), Clinton told an audience that included many of her closest confidantes: “We must accept this result and look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.
“This is not the outcome we wanted or worked so hard for, and I’m sorry that we did not win this election, for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country,” Clinton said, choking back a tear or two.
“You represent the best of America,” she continued, “and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Clinton acknowledged the disappointment felt by millions of supporters, singling out women and young girls who saw her candidacy as the first legitimate opportunity to break the proverbial glass ceiling since the 19th Amendment had granted them the right to vote in 1920.
“We need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives,” Clinton urged them.
“And to all the women, and especially the young women who put their faith in this campaign and in me, I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion,” she said. “I know we still have not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will.”
Despite the excruciating loss, Clinton called upon her followers to push forward and fight for causes that matter.
“Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time,” she said. “So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the cause and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everybody, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet, and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.
“We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of the country to say with one voice: We believe the American Dream is big enough for everyone.”
The former U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration said she called Trump at around 3 a.m. Wednesday to congratulate him.
President Barack Obama had done the same.
Just after 12 p.m., he stood in the Rose Garden with the sun shining on his face. Joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Obama talked about the importance of a peaceful transition of power and instructed his team to follow the example of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whom he praised.
“The presidency and the vice presidency are bigger than any of us,” he said, adding that a peaceful transition is one of the “hallmarks of our democracy.”
During the election, Obama had talked about his hope that he would be passing the baton to Clinton, who could move his agenda forward. Now he’ll have to hand over the powers of the presidency to the same man who built his political career by challenging the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency. Trump had propagated the falsehood that Obama was not born in this country. Trump continued to question Obama’s birth, even after Obama produced his Hawaii birth certificate.
Obama said he hopes that his Republican successor will follow through on his promise that he’ll be a president for all Americans.
“We all go forward with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens,” Obama said.
What’s next for Clinton is unclear. She did not hint at what the future holds for her; instead, she rallied her supporters to carry on.
“Don’t grow weary,” she told them. “There is more work to do.”
(Photo credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America/flickr)
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sailed to victory Tuesday night to secure a fourth term in office, allowing the veteran lawmaker to squarely focus on a slew of competitive races nationwide that could flip the power of the Senate in Democrats’ favor.
Schumer, the third-ranking Democratic Senator, defeated his Republican challenger, Wendy Long, a Massachusetts native and litigator from New York City, according to the Associated Press.
New York’s senior U.S. Senator is in line to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the current minority leader in the Senate. But if Democrats can win four of the 34 seats up for grab—nine of which are hotly contested—and Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House, then his party would regain control, making him the majority leader. (In this scenario, Democrats and Republicans would be tied, but a Vice President Tim Kaine would tip the scale as the president of the Senate.)
Even if Clinton loses, Democrats could gain control by winning five seats.
If Democrats recapture the Senate and hold on to the White House, then New York would boast two of the three highest-ranking positions in government.
The Brooklyn-born Schumer, 65, has come along way. Despite his powerful status in Washington, D.C., he prefers to appear like a fighter for the working-man. Schumer is notorious for holding Sunday news conference addressing local issues. Even so, he’s often called upon to douse flames in the nation’s capital and furiously take on Republicans.
At least publicly, Schumer has not made his potential ascension a hallmark of his re-election bid.
When asked about potentially joining up with a president from New York—which hasn’t happened since Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt was in the White House—would mean for the state, he demurred this summer in an interview with a Press reporter.
“There was a lot of attention during the primaries about ‘New York values,’” he said, referring to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) off-putting remarks during his bid for the GOP nomination. “And all I know about that is the New York values I learned from my father, a World War II vet who ran a small exterminator business, and my mother, a loving homemaker; we’re all about hard work, caring about your neighbors and doing well in school and in life. I happen to think those values are universal and play nicely on the national stage, too.”
According to an NBC News analysis, all but one of the competitive Senate races are concentrated in states where Republican incumbents swept to victory during the rise of the Tea Party in 2010 and are for the first time up for re-election.
The races in Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Illinois could come down to how well candidates at the top-of-the-ticket fair in those respective states. Several races are in competitive swing states of Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Schumer accomplished his goal, but voters outside New York will decide whether he and his fellow Democrats wrestle control of the Senate.
For much of the US presidential election cycle, the coverage of Muslim Americans in the country has almost exclusively focused on national security—that their religion inherently makes them a danger to society and even the good ones are somehow responsible for failing to weed out troublemakers in their own communities.
Muslim families watched in horror last December when Donald Trump, a reality TV star and businessman vying for the Republican Party’s nomination, proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the US.
They cringed, but were not surprised, when he suggested law enforcement spy on their mosques—a controversial tool that has become all-too commonplace after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks—and have the federal government establish a database of all Muslims living in the US.
There were moments, although fleeting, that made them swell with pride, like when Ghazala and Khizr Khan, the parents of a fallen Muslim soldier, became the unexpected stars of this election.
With the vitriolic presidential election careening toward a welcomed end, Long Island Muslims interviewed over the course of the final weeks of the race say they’re motivated, perhaps more than ever, to flock to the polls. Muslims aren’t the only segment of the population who feel they have been unfairly maligned this election, but the long-list of inflammatory remarks, perhaps buttressing a troubling rise in attacks on mosques and rampant Islamophobia, has them confident people will be inspired to turn out in droves, according to surveys and chatter in mosques.
“Until this year we were not serious,” about getting involved politically, Dr. Safdar Chadda of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, tells the Press. “This is the first time we’re doing it in an organized way.”
To ensure strong turnout on Tuesday, a coalition of mosques across the Island held a picnic at Belmont Lake State Park in September to encourage people to head to the polls. In Nassau County, community leaders gathered at a local restaurant to strategize how best to mobilize volunteers and their plans for upcoming meet-the-candidate events.
The campaign to bolster the ranks of registered voters is not only about Tuesday’s presidential election. Leaders hope to channel the motivating factors contributing to voter enthusiasm into something more tangible, perhaps even encouraging some to run for office.
What community leaders quickly realized, however, was Muslim Americans here were already motivated to register, but also vote come Nov. 8. The unifying force, strangely enough, was Donald J. Trump.
“Donald Trump, believe it or not, is the best thing to happen to Muslims in America because it kind of gave them a kick in the pants,” Dr. Mamoon Iqbal, a leader at Masjid Noor in Huntington, tells the Press.
“People themselves want to register,” Chadda adds, “because their own future is at stake.”
Despite the apparent enthusiasm, mosques across Nassau and Suffolk counties say they’ve collectively registered more than 10,000 new voters over the course of eight months—beginning during the primary season and continuing through the general election.
Surprisingly, the most sought after segment of potential new voters were 50-and-60-year-olds who have lived in the US for decades but mostly shrugged when election season rolled along.
“The way the political atmosphere is, and how charged the election is, everybody is a stakeholder in this election,” says Iqbal. “So they want to have their voices heard. The way to get your voices heard is to go out to the ballot box.”
The same thing goes for older generations of Muslim Americans in Nassau County.
“They’re inspired now, obviously,” says a trustee at Masjid Hamza Islamic Center of South Shore in Valley Stream, who requested anonymity because of the toxicity of this election. “The rhetoric is directly aimed toward Muslims.”
Long Island Muslims are not alone.
Muslim advocacy groups across the country report mobilizing voters at unprecedented levels through voter registration campaigns online and through traditional canvassing efforts.
The US Council of Muslim Organizations said last week its Get Out The Vote campaign it initiated last December “has been overwhelmingly success.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has had similar initiatives, as has Emerge USA, which focuses its efforts entirely in swing states like Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, and has used the hashtag #Muslimswingvote to galvanize voters.
Inspired by Trump’s attacks against the Khans, Mirriam Seddiq, a criminal defense attorney and Muslim advocate, created the American Muslim Women PAC. The political action committee has endorsed Clinton and has raised money for her campaign.
“We are awake and motivated now and we are getting organized,” Seddiq tells the Press in an email. “Not the real task is not to be complacent again, because it is that complacency that allowed us to be put in this position in the first place.”
A recent CAIR survey found that 86-percent of Muslim voters polled said they intend to vote this presidential election, with 72 percent vowing to support the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
There was a time when Republicans dominated the Muslim vote. In 2000, Muslims overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. Four years later, however, the pendulum had swung in favor of the Democrat John Kerry.
The level of support from Muslims directed at Democrats has only grown since. According to CAIR, 49 percent of Muslims identified as Democrat in 2008, compared with 67 percent going into this election.
Chadda, of the Islamic Center of Long Island, was one of those Republicans. But in September he changed his party status to Independent and has pledged to vote for Clinton.
“It has been on everybody’s minds and some people are really worried and scared,” he says of some of Trump’s remarks.
Recently one of his daughters gave an ultimatum. If Trump wins the election, she said, “I don’t want to live here, I want to go back to Canada”—the country of her birth.
Dr. Yousuf Syed, trustee at the Selden Mosque, is also a registered Republican voting for Clinton.
“I’m not too happy as a Republican,” he says, adding: “If somebody personally picks on [a religion], it’s a matter of concern.”
Muslim Americans are historically socially conservative, which would appear to be a tantalizing segment of the electorate for Republicans outspoken about religious liberty. But the never-ending War on Terror, Bush-era surveillance of Muslims, and now Trump’s perceived attacks on the religion has damaged that once promising relationship, maybe even irrevocably.
Muslims who immigrated to the US “gravitated toward their social polices and fiscal conservativeness,” Iqbal says. “That has definitely changed.”
As nonprofits, Mosques are careful to remain apolitical. But with one particular candidate using anti-Islam rhetoric to spur support in an age of terror on TV and 24/7 cable news, it’s hard for them to not wear their heart on their sleeve.
Imam Muhammad Abdul Jabbar of Masjid Darul Quran in Bay Shore says the mosque doesn’t endorse or advocate for a certain candidate “but everybody knows who to vote” for.
“People say that after this hype is over, hopefully something good will come,” he says.
If Trump wins, he adds, “it will be a nightmare for the Muslims.”
Some Muslim Americas are already living the nightmare.
It’s not uncommon for people to hurl disparaging remarks or gestures at families leaving Masjid Darul Quran, Jabbar says.
“Go back where you came from!” people yell, he says. “Sometimes they would use the ‘F’ word.”
“This is quite derogatory and full of hatred,” Jabbar continues. “And this has never been before—and this is because of Trump.”
In June, CAIR and U.C. Berkeley Center for Race and Gender released a report that found attacks on mosques in the US nearly quadrupled from 20 to 78 between 2014 and 2015. Nearly half of those incidents were recorded in November and December, which coincides with the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and Trump’s subsequent Muslim ban proposal.
In September, Adelphi University in Garden City shared with the Long Island Press preliminary results of a study scrutinizing how the election has impacted Muslim Americans. Respondents overwhelmingly blamed the rancorous presidential election for their feeling unsafe in the US. A majority also said they felt obligated to prove their patriotism and have experienced their loyalty come under fire.
Dr. Hussein Rashid, an ex-professor of religious studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead who is currently an adjunct at Columbia University, says Trump is holding on to a “mythic past” in which he challenges “the notion that the vast majority of Americans are in fact American.”
“It is troubling that he is being so successful in undermining the principles of our nation and that people believe that he is right,” he says in an email. “Both his followers and his victims.”
As the election winds down, Muslim American voters are experiencing a mixture of both anxiousness and relief that the incessant campaigns are coming to an end, says the trustee at the Valley Stream mosque who wished to remain nameless.
“It’s a tense time,” he says.
But now Muslim Americans, a group that accounts for about 1-percent of the US population and one that is often used as a tool by some to sew fear in the hearts of concerned Americans, will finally have their moment to have their voices heard—at the polls.
“As far as politics go, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I can tell you straight forward that the amount of rhetoric that is coming out of certain corners has really motivated our congregants to get out there and be a part of the conversation,” says Iqbal of Masjid Noor. “Because right now we feel we’re not a part of the conversation.
“Old, young, rich, poor—this is the topic of conversation right now,” he continues. “People are very motivated to get out there and vote and flex their muscle…to get their mandate across.
“We have doctors, lawyers, engineers, social workers, sports stars—our narrative is being hijacked and controlled by somebody else and we want to take back our narrative.”
U.S. Army veteran Chris Daniels survived three roadside bomb explosions during his two-year tour in Iraq, and aside from a wounded leg, the disorienting blasts left him relatively unscathed, physically.
Yet the war did not end for the Centerport resident once he traded the desert battlefield for the manicured lawns and promise of laid-back weekends in suburbia in November 2005.
“When you get home you’re still in hyper-sensitive mode as far as ready for combat,” Daniels, now 42, tells the Press. “So, it takes a couple of months to realize you’re actually home.”
His troubles began almost immediately after departing the Middle East: Every time Daniels shut his eyes, he’d be haunted by nightmares, as if his brain was deliberately protesting his attempts at sleep. At best, he’d manage four hours a night.
Ultimately, Daniels was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, a mental health condition often triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event—which growing research suggests those who’ve suffered even a mild brain injury, such as concussions among returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, or those plaguing longtime NFL players, are more susceptible of developing.
Although concussions—the most common traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)—are often associated with sports, statistically they’re attributed to more rudimentary origins, such as falls, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranks as their predominant cause, followed by unintentional blunt trauma and motor vehicle crashes.
An estimated 1.8 to 3.6 million traumatic brain injuries occur annually in the United States, reports the CDC, and TBIs account for 30 percent of all injury deaths each year. Diagnoses for concussions have increased 43 percent in the United States within the past five years, with a 71-percent spike among patients 10 to 19 years old, according to a recently published analysis by insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Before his exposure to the horrors of war, Daniels spent his teenage years playing football and lacrosse, both contact sports. When he was a young athlete, head injuries were less scrutinized, however, and in the military, machismo often prevents soldiers from seeking help. So while doctors have only once diagnosed him as suffering a concussion during his military service or his countless hours on athletics fields, Daniels now suspects he’s experienced at least a half dozen throughout his life.
He underwent psychotherapy at the local Veterans Affairs hospital, but the nightmares and sleeplessness continued, unabated. Then, this past June, just as he was about to resign himself to living with the war’s lingering aftereffects—and 10 long years since he’d returned home—Daniels experimented with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, also known as HBOT.
If anything, Daniels says he now sleeps too much: eight hours of uninterrupted rest during the week, and 10 on weekends.
“My body is just now catching up on the rest it’s needed for a decade,” he explains.
HBOT is just one of the many treatments presently being considered by researchers as a viable option for concussed patients, with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to determine better ways to accelerate recovery treatments in both acute and chronic patients.
U.S. taxpayers have so far paid about $70 million for a trio of HBOT studies, according to The New York Times. All three studies attributed improvements to a placebo effect—essentially, the patient’s belief in the treatment. Despite these results, Congress this year approved funding for yet another HBOT study.
Another potentially game-changing analysis is being conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo Concussion Management Clinic and could upend the decades-old notion that rest is the preferred form of concussion treatment: Researchers are currently analyzing whether light aerobics could speed recovery time among recently concussed young athletes.
Then there’s the National Football League (NFL), which has drawn criticism for failing to address its concussion crisis sooner, announcing before the current season that it would invest $100 million to “support independent medical research” on concussions. The league’s outsized spending coincides with a new policy calling for players who appear too dazed on the field to undergo a so-called “concussion protocol” before they’re cleared to return to gameplay.
The NFL’s outreach and evolution of internal on-field policies comes on the heels of a $1 billion class-action settlement between the league and thousands of retired players who’ve suffered long-lasting brain injuries from head trauma throughout their careers. Last spring, NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Miller acknowledged for the first time what many in the medical field had long suspected: a connection between repeated blows to the head and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can only be diagnosed posthumously.
Experts credit the NFL’s unprecedented admission and new technology enabling physicians to better understand brain injuries with raising the public’s awareness about concussions to record highs.
“Concussion has been around for a long time, and we’ve been talking about it for a long time. I think technology is now catching up, and as a result of that, there is an opportunity in acknowledging the fact that concussion just isn’t a singular event that goes away in three weeks or three months, and we can now start to measure the effects of those injuries and the technologies” being used as treatments, says Dr. Alan Sherr, owner and operator of Northport Wellness Center and founder of Hyperbaric Medical Solutions in Woodbury, which treats patients with concussions.
The pervasive use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as those experienced by Daniels and other servicemen and women returning home to the United States from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, has also increased public awareness about TBIs—as well as a growing body of research suggesting their direct links to PTSD.
In 2012, scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles training rats that had experienced concussive brain trauma with fear-conditioning techniques made a startling discovery:
“We found that the rats with the earlier TBI acquired more fear than control rats (those without TBI),” Dr. Michael Fanselow, senior author of the study, explained at the time. “Something about the brain injury rendered them more susceptible to acquiring an appropriately strong fear. It was if the injury primed the brain for learning to be afraid.”
Analysis of brain tissue of the subjects’ amygdala—an area of the brain that responds to fear—revealed more receptors for neurotransmitters that promote learning, suggesting “that brain injury leaves the amygdala in a more excitable state that readies it for acquiring potent fear,” said Fanselow.
The findings suggested people who suffered even a mild TBI were more likely to develop an anxiety disorder, and underscored the importance of properly managing stress following such an injury.
“The greater the resistance, I know I’m on track. Because that means I’m butting up against someone’s belief systems.” – Dr. Alan Sherr, Hyperbaric Medical Solutions
Another study the following year including more than 1,600 service members who were assessed prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, as well as three months after returning, found that troops who experienced a TBI were twice as likely to develop PTSD.
Dewleen Baker, a psychiatrist at UCSD and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, and one of that study’s authors, then partnered with Mingxiong Huang, a biomedical physicist at the University of California, San Diego, who had been using magnetoencephalography, or MEG, to measure neurological electrical activity in concussed subjects.
According to a joint paper published earlier this year in Psychoneuroendocrinology, scanning the brains of servicemen and women and civilians who experienced TBIs reveals abnormally low-frequency magnetic activity, with hyper-activity in the amygdala, and hypo-activity in pre-frontal cortex in individuals with PTSD.
Perhaps as a result the recent NFL revelations linking TBIs to the gridiron, more and more children are becoming aware, too.
Dr. Jennifer Gray, co-medical director of St. Charles Hospital’s ThinkSmart! Concussion Management Center in Port Jefferson, describes concussion awareness as “unavoidable” because of the deluge of coverage in the media.
“Over the course of the years that I’ve been doing this, I think most of the kids are really honest about their symptoms nowadays because they see the tragedy of what happens if they’re not,” she tells the Press.
As the search for the perfect concussion treatment continues, one thing is certain: It’s never too early for athletes to learn about the warning signs of traumatic brain injuries.
St. Charles’ concussion management center sees about 3,000 patients with potential concussion symptoms each year, the hospital says.
For many young athletes in contact sports, suffering a concussion—and other sports injuries—is an inevitable result of banging helmets, heading balls in soccer, or performing aerial feats in cheerleading. Short of stopping kids from engaging in athletics altogether, the more preferable option is to make sure concussed athletes are diagnosed early.
To that end, St. Charles’ concussion center has established a program with more than 42 school districts on Long Island, giving the hospital access to students’ neurocognitive baseline testing, which they can then compare to a concussion examination. Since the program was established in 2010, the center has amassed more than 30,000 baseline tests, which examine immediate memory, delayed memory, reaction time and processing speed.
“They compare it to themselves, which is the beauty of a baseline test,” says Gray. “So they take the test before they’re injured, and then after injury, the doctors can re-test them and see if there’s a significant change in their ability to do any of those tasks.
“If they don’t have a baseline on file, they can be compared to normative data,” she continues. “But we definitely prefer that we compare them to themselves.”
Baseline testing is not a fail-safe measure, however, since it focuses only on neurocognitive functions. Laura Beck, director of St. Charles’ concussion management center, calls it “one piece of a complicated puzzle,” because symptoms vary among concussed patients.
“You know, the notion that you’re supposed to be kept in a dark room or kept home from school is stupid.” – Dr. David Cifu, Virginia Commonwealth University
For some student athletes, the baseline test is “not even a factor in determining whether they’re ready to go back to play if kids are having real issues in the neurocognitive area,” explains Gray, adding, “It might be more useful than other kids having more physical symptoms.”
Recovery times also vary.
The athletes who visit St. Charles must complete a “return to play” protocol before they are cleared to rejoin their teammates. That means they must be symptom-free, return to baseline on their neurocognitive tests, and pass a physical exam. But that’s not all: Patients must also go through a “gradual return to play” over the course of a series of five days, where they progressively increase levels of exertion so physicians are confident symptoms won’t return.
CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL WISDOM
How the body responds to physical exertion soon after suffering a concussion is the subject of a promising study being conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo.
Its goal, as the university outlined in a press release last year, is to “evaluate for the first time a treatment protocol for concussion.”
“We know that exercise is good for the brain, in general, because it increases a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), and they’re studying whether increasing that level after concussion would help the brain recovery,” Dr. John Leddy, director of the Concussion Management Clinic in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and a North Babylon High School graduate, tells the Press. “There’s evidence of that in animals, but not humans.”
For humans, the question, Leddy says, is: “How soon can you introduce” exercise to a concussed brain. And if the body does not show any adverse effects, the next obvious question is: Will it help patients recover faster?
The answer, Leddy acknowledges, has been unattainable—until now.
In its mission to resolve that mystery, the school will hook up 100 13 to 17-year-olds to a heartrate monitor and record their reaction to light aerobics on a stationary bike or treadmill.
When the university announced this test, it highlighted the results of Julia Whipple, a 16-year-old high schooler from western New York who was injured playing soccer, completed the study, and recovered—she’d also expressed excitement about exercise as a form of treatment instead of languishing at home “wait[ing] for my symptoms to disappear.”
For years, conventional wisdom stressed that patients refrain from activity that could worsen their condition, such as avoiding bright lights, reading, exercise, and even leaving the house.
“I think that’s changing now,” says Leddy.
Leddy recommends rest immediately following a concussion—but, “after the first two or three days, when the symptoms are calming down, now you can start to get more active again,” he adds. “Again, you shouldn’t be playing a sport yet, but you can start to get more active, and we think we might even be able to get athletes exercising soon after concussion, to help them recover.”
While it seems rest would be far from harmful, research has shown it to cause depression in some concussed patients, which could be attributed to their removal from social interaction. Upending a teenager’s social life is not ideal, Leddy says.
“For the 80 percent of people who are going to recover in a week or two, that kind of worked pretty well,” Leddy says. “But for the 20 percent who don’t, it doesn’t work well at all. It doesn’t speed their recovery. Just resting and doing nothing, first of all, doesn’t help, and also then makes things worse, because now you’re taking a teenager out of his or her social life.”
Dr. David Cifu, Virginia Commonwealth University professor and concussion researcher and a Syosset High School graduate, echoes that sentiment.
“What we can do is optimize the body otherwise,” Cifu tells the Press. “Let’s talk to these kids and young adults about diet and exercise and sleep and anxiety management, and when can you safely return to play. You know, the notion that you’re supposed to be kept in a dark room or kept home from school is stupid.”
“The body—it doesn’t do well with rest,” he adds. “Rest is the antithesis of what a young person should be doing.”
As is the case with most injuries or diseases, early diagnosis is key to preventing the condition from getting worse, continues Leddy.
“If you think a child hasn’t gotten a concussion, then remove the child from the game or contest or practice, because [what] we know from animal and human studies is, the worst thing you can do is hit a concussed brain again before it’s recovered,” he explains. “Then you can revert what might just be a minor injury into a major injury, and then you magnify the symptoms and you delay recovery substantially.”
For those already struggling with the long-term ramifications of concussions, the quest for the most effective treatment continues.
HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY
Daniels, the U.S. Army vet, had been visiting Dr. Alan Sherr’s wellness center in Northport for about 20 years, for treatment on his back. Eventually, his wife, a physician assistant, landed a part-time job at Alan Sherr’s hyperbaric treatment office in Woodbury after growing exhausted with her commute to the Bronx. Once there, she advised her husband to give the treatment a shot, since nothing else had helped ease the effects of his PTSD.
Beginning in June, Daniels began a five day-a-week regimen, in which he reclined inside a hyperbaric oxygen tank for 60-minute sessions. His sleep improved almost immediately, he says, adding that the nightmares dissipated about halfway through the therapy.
Cases like Daniels’ have those in the hyperbaric field excited about HBOT’s potential as a viable treatment for concussions and other TBIs. To understand why those who offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy are so convinced it could help patients with brain injuries, even though the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve it as a viable treatment for TBI, consider how the therapy is utilized for other maladies.
A hyperbaric chamber increases oxygen to the area that is at risk, and by doing so, could reduce degeneration and help heal wounds, explains Alan Sherr’s son, Dr. Scott Sherr, a medical advisor for Hyperbaric Medical Solutions who is certified in hyperbaric oxygen medicine. If you flood that area with oxygen “you can potentially prevent some of the tissue from dying,” he says.
The therapy has been approved by the FDA as a viable, effective treatment option for 14 conditions, including, among others: traumatic ischemia, severe anemia, thermal burn injury, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, and osteomyelitis, aka chronic bone infections.
“We know it works,” continues Scott Sherr, citing other FDA-approved hyperbaric treatments. “What hyperbaric therapy is doing is healing the wounds in the brain that are not being healed by the body’s natural processes. And it’s super-charging and accelerating the healing process otherwise.”
HBOT can help reduce swelling, and even regenerate blood vessels, to help increase bloodflow and ensure that much-needed oxygen reaches damaged areas it otherwise would not, says Scott Sherr.
“What you really need is the scaffolding, or the regeneration of blood vessels, to create the environment where you can get long-term flow to those tissues,” he adds. “In somebody that had a chronic injury or a longer term injury, you need to create the scaffolding, or create the infrastructure for those cells to continue to be regenerated over time.”
When the U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs analyzed the results of its latest study of soldiers who had been recently concussed or were suffering from post-concussion, however, they found no significant difference between a group receiving 100-percent oxygen and a so-called “Sham” group receiving normal air at less pressure.
“It’s probably a placebo effect just from participating,” Col. Scott Miller, an infectious disease specialist at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity at Fort Detrick, Md., concluded when the results were released. “These participants met with research teams and hyperbaric technicians for several hours per day. It was a fairly intense interaction.”
Cifu, who has worked with the VA and is well acquainted with the government’s HBOT studies, is not entirely sold, either, even after recognizing that some patients did express feeling better.
“I know people are making a big deal about it,” Cifu tells the Press. “And that’s why we’re studying it yet again, because there’s a little data that maybe stressed related things that we see in PTSD that you can also see in brain injury that got a little bit better, but it wasn’t huge—which is what people are missing.”
Scott Sherr argues researchers are missing an important finding from the studies: the physiological changes that happen under any increase in oxygen pressure. He points to the test patients that improved even after being exposed to less pressure and oxygen than the full treatment group.
“If you increase the amount of oxygen and circulation by 40, 50 percent, that’s a significant amount,” he says. “Even if we’re giving 90 percent in our treatment group. So there’s definitely something happening in the chamber.”
The studies have not all been unfavorable, however.
The Institute of Hyperbaric Medicine in Israel released its own assessment in 2013, finding that patients with prolonged symptoms saw significant improvement when undergoing the full HBOT treatment, as opposed to those who went two months with no treatment.
Its conclusion: HBOT can improve the quality of life in patients suffering from post-concussive syndrome.
Even though the focus of Hyperbaric Medical Solutions is on the hyperbaric therapy itself, its physicians also prescribe to a holistic approach to healing that encompasses several forms of therapy to supplement chamber treatment.
“The VA and the NFL and larger organizations have just missed the boat so far,” Scott Sherr says. “And you can argue as to why that is. There’s a lot of money riding on these patients. There’s a lot of injured veterans. There’s a lot of injured NFL players. But our hope is that we can create a center here, and in Northport, where we can actually show the world, and show, at least in our microcosm, that we’re having a significant effect.”
Daniels, who is now undergoing neurofeedback therapy at Northport Wellness—another treatment option that essentially maps, then reconfigures brainwaves through cognitive self-regulation—is an example of how an all-encompassing treatment regimen could prove to be an effective long-term solution.
The Sherrs understand hyperbaric oxygen therapy has its detractors, but they remain hopeful the treatment will receive its just due.
“You always start with the perspective of: Who are these people that are the skeptics? And from where do they come from in relationship to their orientation?” says Alan Sherr. “The greater the resistance, I know I’m on track. Because that means I’m butting up against someone’s belief systems.”
“We’re kind of in uncharted territory,” he adds. “We’re creating the systems, we’re looking to support it with appropriate analytics so that we understand their level of improvement and the possibilities, and that’s all new.”
They’re not alone.
(Featured photo: Chris Daniels served in the U.S. Army in Iraq shortly after the invasion. He survived several roadside bomb explosions but has since suffered from PTSD.)
Disclaimer: Hyperbaric Medical Solutions is a client of Morey Publishing, parent company of Long Island Press.
Citing his 75-year-old mother’s long bout with cancer, ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke begged a federal judge for leniency when he’s sentenced next week, saying it would be “unbearable” to be in prison while the family matriarch’s condition deteriorates.
In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler, Burke apologized for his discretions and played up his three decades on the police force, which ended last year in disgrace when Burke was arrested for beating a suspect and a twisted plot to cover it up. Burke, who is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, faces up to 51 months in prison under the plea deal. He has been held without bail since his arrest last December.
“The greatest consequence involves my mother,” a supposedly remorseful Burke wrote to Wexler. “She was a single mother who suffered through much tragedy in her life and made many sacrifices in raising me and my siblings. In 1999, at age 59, she was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. In what I considered the greatest quest of my life, I took control of her health care and was involved on a daily basis with her treatment. It is now 17 years later and she now 75 years old. Her situation is nothing short of a medical miracle. She is presently undergoing immunotherapy, is confined to a wheelchair and requires oxygen 24 hours a day. She struggled to write you a letter in her own hand.”
“It would be unbearable for me to be in prison as her condition deteriorated and she passes from this earth, severely restricted in my ability communicate,” he continued. “I suffered through a life-threatening illness when I was six weeks old. My mom and I have faired the direst of circumstances together. She does not deserve the consequences of dying while her oldest son, who has generally done good for most of his life, is in prison.”
In February, Burke pleaded guilty to federal civil rights violations and conspiracy charges for beating burglary suspect Christopher Loeb while the then-24-year-old was in police custody at the Fourth Precinct station house on Dec. 12, 2012. Burke’s subordinates were instructed to lie about the interrogation-room beating.
Loeb had been arrested for breaking into Burke’s police-issued SUV and stealing a duffel bag containing sex toys, porn, and Burke’s gun and ammunition belt when the altercation occurred.
A federal prosecutor said in court that Burke’s porn was the “motivation for beating the hell out of Loeb.”
In his plea to Wexler, Burke apologized to Loeb and the underlings entangled in cover up.
“I sincerely apologize to the victim, to my subordinates who I permitted to take part in these offenses, to my colleagues and those who entrusted me, to the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department, to the citizens of Suffolk County and to you, Your Honor, for my actions,” he said.
Had Burke gone to trial, nearly a dozen officers would’ve testified to the beating, prosecutors claimed.
Burke retired three months prior to his arrest, securing a more than $430,000 retirement payout.
Burke is not the only high-profile member of Suffolk law enforcement to draw federal scrutiny. Since his arrest, reports have surfaced indicating investigators are also looking into alleged improprieties by the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.
“For refusing to cooperate and work with federal law enforcement to prosecute crime in this county, for refusing and blocking federal law enforcement from working on the Gilgo Beach serial murder case, for allowing violent criminals to go free to protect political friends, for lying about Jim Burke and for conspiring to conceal his past…for violating your sacred oath and for using your position as the top law enforcement officer of this county, Tom Spota, you must resign from this office.”
That same day, Spota rebuffed Bellone’s calls to resign and suggested Bellone had requested he intercede on behalf of people the county executive was close to. An exercised Bellone held a follow-up press conference in which he called such claims “nonsense,” adding, “justice needs to be restored to this county.”
Chick-fil-A, the famed Atlanta-based fast food restaurant that specializes in all things chicken, will celebrate the grand opening of two new long-awaited locations on Long Island next week, the company announced.
The new locations in Hicksville and Commack will open their doors Thursday at 6:30 a.m. Fast food revelers will also have the opportunity to participate in Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” campaign, which culminates in a grand prize of one free Chick-fil-A meal every week for the entire year. (That’s 52 meals, folks.)
Chick-fil-A, which already enjoys support from a rabid fan base, will have three Long Island locations in total, including its Port Jefferson restaurant, which opened last year.
About 100 people camped outside of the Port Jefferson Chick-fil-A on its opening day last October, erecting tents and sharing stories with other fans about their obsession with the fast food giant.
Those seeking to grab a chicken sandwich at one of the two new locations next Thursday should expect similar crowds.
Chick-fil-A met resistance from LGBT groups when it first announced plans to spread its chicken empire to Long Island. The restaurant has been criticized for controversial donations its CEO has made to anti-gay groups and for the executive’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Despite the criticism, the Town of Brookhaven went ahead and approved the build and towns to their west have done the same.
The Hicksville Chick-fil-A has a prime spot outside of the Broadway Mall. The Commack spot is located along Commack Road, just north of the Long Island Expressway.
Those brave souls interested in winning free meals for the year must have a valid state-issued ID and must be 18 years or older. For more official rules, check out Chick-fil-A’s contest page.
Chick-fil-A is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. As is customary, the restaurants are closed on Sunday.
Suffolk County police plans to introduce a controversial new tool as part of its latest crackdown on violent gangs: automatic license plate readers.
The integration of the new surveillance technology in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore comes amid a spate of murders—six in total—since September. The half-dozen slayings are believed to be gang-related, authorities have said.
The department plans to roll out at least 50 license plate readers across the three communities, paid for with a $1 million state grant secured by State Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood).
The short-term goal is to use the devices to solve open cases, officials said. But ultimately, authorities hope to “decimate the gangs that have committed these crimes,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said outside the department’s third precinct in Bay Shore Monday morning.
The police department has only recently begun discussions of selecting a vendor, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said, adding that the department additionally has the ability to collaborate with municipalities that have also expressed interest in the technology.
“This is a gigantic shot in the arm,” Sini told reporters. Speaking directly to gang members, he warned: “Do not commit crime in this area. We will catch you.”
Since the high-profile slayings, beginning in September, the department has aggressively targeted known gang members and boosted patrols in and around Brentwood.
Crackdown on Gangs
The latest anti-gang initiative began after the brutally beaten bodies of two best friends—15-year-old Nisa Mickens and 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas—were discovered in Brentwood just one day apart. Their murders are believed to be gang-related, police said. Authorities have since discovered skeletal remains of three missing teens on the grounds of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center on Crooked Hill Road, including that of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, an alleged MS-13 gang member.
In the wake of Mickens’ and Cuevas’ murders, police have flooded the Brentwood area, increased patrols, and developed a list of known gang members that gang officers have used to target specific individuals, Sini said.
“This pressure is allowing us to gather unbelievable amount of information,” Sini said. “That’s why we have discovered certain crimes that have occurred in the Brentwood area.”
To date, 30 purported gang members have been arrested for various crimes, ranging from weapons possession to trespassing, Sini said. Additionally, five gang members have been taken into federal custody on racketeering charges. Sini reiterated Monday that the department will not release the names of those in federal custody until authorities believe doing so wouldn’t jeopardize investigations.
When gang violence in Suffolk ratcheted up nearly a decade ago, the crackdown then included rudimentary police work, such as traffic stops. But technology has progressed so much that police believe license plate readers can be used as a “virtual net” encircling the perimeter of targeted neighborhoods to make it difficult for known gang members to pass through unnoticed.
Ramos said the community has grown “weary” of the hastily arranged community meetings and ubiquitous task forces spawned from past slayings, characterizing such efforts as “lip service.”
“We need to get real about this problem and realize that we have to do more than talk about it,” Ramos told reporters.
Civil liberties groups have expressed concern about the integration of plate readers because of the technology’s ability to suck up the plate numbers of every vehicle that passes through a virtual checkpoint. How the information is stored, and for how long, has also raised serious privacy questions. Anyone in possession of such data can access a specific vehicle’s travel history, and, for example, use it to ascertain the driver’s religious and political affiliation, thereby creating a profile of that person.
Ramos said it’s not Suffolk police’s goal to use the technology, which can be outfitted on patrol vehicles and on roadside poles, to monitor the community.
“We must respect the civil rights of our community,” he said. “Anybody that’s concerned with these cameras spying on them—they will absolutely not be used for anything other than solving a crime.”
In order to access the database, an officer would require very specific information, including a case number, officials said. Sini noted that the department would periodically run audits to analyze which officers accessed the database to ensure its proper use.
The three Suffolk communities won’t be the first on Long Island to use these devices.
The Village of Freeport installed more than two-dozen license plate readers around the perimeter of the community late last year, and within 90 days scanned an astounding 15 million license plates. The village lauded how it was able to issue more than 2,000 summonses over that time period and impound hundreds of cars as well as make several arrests related to stolen vehicles. In one instance, the readers helped catch a man wanted for murder in Virgina, village officials said.
But the department of less than 100 officers has reportedly been flooded with thousands of hits through its system, which can cross-reference up to 20,000 plate numbers per minute from federal and state motor vehicle records. The deluge has raised concerns about overburdening the village’s small police force.
In Suffolk, the plan is not to track every single hit, but to input case numbers in order to find specific individuals wanted for serious crimes.
“The residents of Brentwood, Bay Shore and Central Islip need not be concerned about these cameras unless one is committing a crime,” Ramos stressed.
“We need to get buy-in…this is an asset for the residents of Brentwood,” Sini added.
Officials will hold community meetings as the technology is rolled out to address concerns and obtain input.
In the meantime, police are continuing to put pressure on gangs, Sini said.
In the last month, violent crime is down 75-percent in Brentwood, he claimed, adding that the department is continuing to collect intelligence.
“You don’t stumble upon skeletal remains in a densely wooded area by accident,” he said.
(Featured photo: Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini requested tips in the murder of two Brentwood teens on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.)
When the national press descended on Hofstra University’s campus in Hempstead nearly one month ago for the first presidential debate, the central question was how Donald Trump, a political novice, would fare against an experienced debater like Hillary Clinton.
When Trump competed against a crowded field in the GOP primaries, he proved adept at swatting away attacks and needling his opponents. His provocations would rattle even his more confident foes.
Perhaps the most maligned victim of Trump’s taunts was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who the businessman ridiculed for his diminutive height. Apparently flustered, the senator acquiesced to Trump’s dig, meekly replying, “Okay, Big Donald.” The retort was as bizarre as it was uninspiring. It essentially summed up the pitfalls Republicans faced when balancing a more offensive approach against taking the high road, while not coming across as weak amidst provocations from an unconventional candidate riding a wave of populous upheaval simmering for years since the election of Barack Obama.
So how would Trump respond when forced to go toe-to-toe with only one challenger for a full 90 minutes? Would he stay on the attack, and if so, how would the more-reserved Clinton react to his rebukes? At the time, the stakes were especially high. Both candidates arrived at Hofstra in a virtual dead heat, according to various polls released days before their first bout. Indeed, one poll even had Trump ahead by two points in a four-way race that included third-party candidates Jill Stein (G) and Gary Johnson (L).
A lot has changed since the most-watched debate in history. The former U.S. senator from New York and U.S. Secretary of State has built a seemingly commanding lead. Remarkably, she has made historically “red” states like Arizona and Utah competitive. Even Trump’s lead in the GOP stalwart state of Texas, which Republican Mitt Romney won by nearly 16 points in 2012, has been shaved to only six points. The New York Times forecast gives Clinton a 93 percent shot of winning the election. On the day of the first debate, Clinton’s chances of winning were at 70 percent. Similarly, FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast gives Clinton an 86 percent chance of becoming the next president.
Popular vote tracker:
Before 1° debate: Clinton +1.5
Before 2° debate: Clinton +5.6
Before 3° debate: Clinton +7.1https://t.co/WLXtJovjYd
If you’re in the Clinton camp, her widening lead in national polls and several surveys of hotly contested swing states is directly related to her impressive string of debate performances, starting with the Hofstra debate, and Trump’s subsequent flubs as a candidate—which they’d argue portends what a Trump presidency would look like.
Trump himself does not attribute his now tenuous position as a presidential candidate to any perceived debate miscues, but a corrupt and rigged system—of which the media is included—that has been hijacked in Clinton’s favor. Actually, Trump, even while calling into question America’s decentralized election system, cites unscientific online polls that indicate he won the debates, thus still very much in the race. Trump was buttressed this week by undercover video released by a conservative group in which Democratic operatives discuss instigating violence at Trump’s famously boisterous rallies. It’s not clear whether the operatives actually incited Trump supporters at any of his events.
The most noteworthy controversy that came up in the Hofstra debate was Trump’s refusal for years—even after Obama produced his birth certificate—to acknowledge the president’s citizenship. During the debate Clinton displayed an ability get under Trump’s skin, fact-checking him on his support for the Iraq War, which prompted a long-winded and at times incoherent rant about a private conversation he had with Fox News host and supporter Sean Hannity.
Since the Hofstra debate, more than a dozen women have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault, which the Department of Justice defines as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Trump was also beset by the release of a video in which he boasted that his celebrity allowed him to inappropriately touch women—“Grab them by the pussy,” he boasted on the tape—without repercussions.
Trump has since been dogged by the lewd remarks and allegations from women about inappropriate behavior. Despite her lead, Clinton has had to answer for the infamous Goldman Sachs speeches that appeared on WikiLeaks.com, as well as hundreds of emails associated with her campaign, and even dating back to her time as Secretary of State. Republicans have accused the State Department and the FBI of engaging in a quid-pro-quo over the classification status of some of her emails. Both the FBI and State Department have said nothing nefarious occurred.
Still, Clinton said in one private speech, among a slew of appearances she was paid handsomely for, that politicians require “both a public and private position” on hot-button issues, a position that would do little to quell concerns by a majority of Americans that find her untrustworthy. In one speech, Clinton advocated for having “open trade and open borders,” which in the third and final debate she claimed was in the context of energy policies.
Clinton rebuffed calls during the Democratic primary to release the transcripts of the speeches. Her then-rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), had chided Clinton for her coziness with Wall Street, which he and his supporters blame for the tremendous wealth gap in America.
In any other election, last-minute salacious revelations would likely tip the scale of the race. But there’s been no campaign quite like the 2016 race for the White House. The Republican nominee has been accused of being a demagogue, racist and misogynist, and the standard bearer of the Democratic party, a liar who should be jailed for her perceived inappropriate handling of classified material on her private email server while Secretary of State.
So, it’s apparent anything can happen. But with about 40-percent of the electorate estimated to vote before Election Day, and Trump’s campaign listing as it careens toward the finish line, Clinton may have built a large enough lead to stave off a dramatic comeback by Trump.
Remember where this race was four weeks ago: Trump gaining ground after a strong Democratic convention boost for Clinton. But since then, the trajectory of the race has taken a drastic turn. And it all started when the two candidates stepped off the debate stage at Hofstra University.
(Featured photo: First presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead. Credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary Clinton campaign)
Billy Joel will open the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum next spring, giving the “Piano Man” yet another high-profile gig at the arena where he holds the record for the most consecutive sold-out shows.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano made Joel’s opener official in a statement Tuesday, declaring, “There’s no better performer suited to reopen the transformed” Coliseum.
It was Joel, of course, who closed the original Coliseum in August 2015 before it was shuttered ahead of an ongoing $261-million renovation.
The lifelong Long Island entertainer performed 32 shows at the 43-year-old Uniondale arena, and, in 1998, set the record for most consecutive sold-out shows in one year with nine.
His much-anticipated performance inside the new building is slated for April 5, 2017, officials said.
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday, officials said. American Express members get an exclusive opportunity to claim seats for the gig on Thursday, between 10 a.m. through 10 p.m.
When Joel bid farewell to the Coliseum more than a year ago, he played before several dignitaries, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which will operate the refurbished Nassau Coliseum, said the building is in the final phase of construction and “will soon be ready to rock again.”
“April 5 is a celebration for Long Island, and it’s spectacular venue, which will revive the area as a vibrant entertainment market,” Yormark said in a statement.
Unlike the original Coliseum, which opened in 1972, the renovated version will not have a professional sports team as an anchor. The New York Islanders have since moved to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after several failed attempts by the organization to build a new arena and transform the surrounding area.
Once re-opened, the revived Coliseum will boast 13,000 seats for preseason Islanders games, 13,500 for an NBA development league associated with the Brooklyn Nets, and 14,500 for concerts.
The morning after a frightening crash that caused a Long Island Rail Road train carrying 600 passengers to derail Saturday evening, officials took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that most people escaped without any serious injuries.
“When you look at the actual damage to this situation, this silver lining is we’re fortunate that more people weren’t seriously hurt,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday morning after surveying the wreckage. “The damage to the train cars is extensive and we have had a number of injuries, but frankly, that we didn’t lose any lives is something to be thankful for.”
In total, 33 people were injured, 26 of whom were passengers, officials said. Four of the injuries were classified as serious. One passenger suffered broken bones and was forced to undergo surgery.
Although the crash is currently under investigation, officials were able to shed more clarity on the crash, which occurred just after 9 p.m. in New Hyde Park.
Cuomo said the passenger train and a work train were running in the same direction when they sideswiped each other, causing three of the passenger train’s cars to careen off the tracks.
The passenger train “was where it was supposed to be,” officials said, adding that the work train appeared to have intruded on the other train’s path.
MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said the work train was being used for maintenance on an inoperable track.
“One of the last steps is that piece of equipment going back and forth and I think they had completed and they were going to make a move east with all of the work equipment and clear up,” he said. “Why it ended up where it did…that’s what we need to find out in the investigation.”
The work of ascertaining how it came to be that the work train apparently impeded the passenger train will be left to the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency responsible for investigating transportation-related incidents.
Cuomo urged everyone to exercise caution and let investigators examine the crash site before drawing any conclusions.
“Once we have the facts from NTSB, anything the LIRR can learn from the incident, we will learn,” the governor said.
Cuomo was effusive in his praise for first responders considering they were working under darkness and were at a disadvantage because the track was sitting on a steep hill.
He said crews will focus on removing the debris and the damaged trains with the hope of getting the train back in service. With Monday being Columbus Day, the railroad is expecting lighter ridership, which could help relieve the stress of the painstaking work ahead, officials acknowledged.
Cuomo said additional state resources have been ordered to assist the LIRR.
“If we have to work all day and all night long, we will because we want to make sure tomorrow’s commute is as normal and as easy as possible,” Cuomo said.
Service remained suspended on the LIRR’s Oyster Bay branch due to the crash.
The railroad released the following instructions to customers using its service:
Huntington/Port Jefferson Branch
Port Jefferson – Hicksville Customers
The LIRR has established limited alternate service to/from stations Hicksville through Port Jefferson with a diesel shuttle train that will operate between Hicksville and Babylon, then train transfers at Hicksville to/from Huntington and points east.
Westbound customers will take a westbound train to Hicksville. There, they will board a diesel train to Babylon, which will travel along the ‘Central Branch.’ At Babylon, transfer to a westbound train to New York.
Eastbound customers should take an eastbound train to Babylon. There, they will board a diesel train to Hicksville, which will travel along the ‘Central Branch.’ At Hicksville, transfer to an eastbound train to Huntington and points east.
To avoid delays, customers are advised to use the Montauk or Babylon Branches
Westbury – New Hyde Park Customers
The LIRR is providing limited bus service between Jamaica and the New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Mineola, Carle Place & Westbury Stations.
Westbound customers will take a westbound bus to Jamaica, then transfer to trains for service to points west.
Eastbound customers should take an eastbound train to Jamaica. There, they transfer to a bus for service to New Hyde Park, Merillon Ave., Mineola, Carle Place & Westbury.
To avoid busing and delays, customers are advised to use the Hempstead Branch.
(Featured photo credit: New York Governor’s office)